None of us like to see our children sick, unfortunately it is that time of the year when illness and germs are flying around, particularly in the classroom. Last week I had two of my three children home sick. One of my children was considerate enough to get sick on my day off, however the other one was not so considerate and her illness meant that I was required to have a day off work in order to care for her.
These are funny days when we are at home but we are not sick ourselves; although I had a legitimate reason to be at home, I still had a pang of guilt. Guilt wondering if I was taking proper care of my daughter, Guilt about leaving my students without a teacher, Guilt for letting my teaching peers down, Guilt that another member of staff was going to have to cover my yard duties, Guilt about having to miss a scheduled meeting. Guilt, Guilt, Guilt. Guilt for having normally healthy children.
Some years ago I lost a student to brain cancer – she was only nine years old, the age of my own daughter. Her illness and ultimately, her premature death rocked our school community, I wouldn’t even begin to pretend to know what the family went through and continues to go through years later.
A chronically sick child ceases to be a child, they become a ‘child with cancer’, ‘child with leukaemia’ a ‘child with a brain injury’. Children with an illness lose their childhood and become their diagnosis. Their lives become about coping with their illness or getting better, this takes up all their ‘free’ time, all their energy and all their emotional well-being. There can be so many agencies in the ongoing care of a sick child – doctor, nurse, hospital staff, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech pathologist, volunteer agency representative, school staff, tutors, nutritionists, dieticians, dermatologists and I’m sure the list could go on and on. Sadly, sick children can be part of our lives, however hopefully for most of us it is only ever in the mild form.
So next time your child is sick to any degree, love them that little bit more and be grateful for their ‘normal’ level of health.