Picture this. You’re in the doctor’s office for the umpteenth time this month. Your concern is why your child continues to pick up every single thing that comes and goes. As you wait you can’t imagine having to wrestle with a 19-month-old and a syringe full of medicine again, but you dread the thought that it may be a virus that can be helped by nothing except time. You replay the days ensuring that you’ve relentlessly washed hands and wiped off shopping carts and wonder why this continues to happen. You have legitimate concern over how many doses of antibiotics one child can take without ruining her teeth. (Can that really happen by the way?) After the diagnosis of yet another infection the doctor says, “She is in daycare, right?” But it’s really more of a statement than a question. They’ve seen you enough to know you on a first name basis. You sigh and nod, sitting there feeling a combination of utter frustration and guilt.
My daughter has been enrolled in two daycares. Both, while not perfect, (what is?) have been extremely clean. I would know; I’m a tad obsessive about things like that. I’ve watched teachers work tirelessly to keep kids’ hands washed and pick up toys that have made it into mouths. Still, I’ve made enough $25 co-pays for sick doctor visits to have added a small fortune to my sweet baby’s college fund. Regardless of which doctor we see or the diagnosis, daycare seems to always be the culprit according to the MD.
Is daycare really always to blame? Are the other toddlers this sick too and am I just not paying enough attention? My daughter has caught the normal virus here and there, had tonsillitis a couple of times, a few bouts with croup, RSV, hand, foot and mouth disease (who knew that this is actually real?), ear infection after ear infection which ultimately resulted in the addition of ear tubes and the removal of adenoids, bronchitis, pink eye, crazy fevers and the list goes on and on. My guilt continues to multiply with each ailment and doctor visit. The assumption is, even if it’s indirect, that because I choose to work outside the home my child will be sick. I hate the feeling that I have somehow brought this on her. I wonder if the doctor truly believes this too or if I’m just that paranoid. I obviously don’t choose my job over my child. Working is my reality, and the truth is I enjoy what I do and am proud of it. Don’t get me wrong. If I suddenly won the lottery (too bad I don’t play) I would stay at home. Well, not at home exactly, my daughter and I would do lunch and visit museums and the zoo and parks and shop everyday. And I’d make an excellent volunteer. But, again, that’s not my reality, so we’ll just do all of those wonderful things on the weekends.
To keep my sanity I’ve researched and read repeatedly that quality daycares help children learn, become more social and overall be more well-rounded individuals. If you’ve heard otherwise please be kind and just keep that to yourself. As for me, I’ll keep moving forward, building even better relationships with everyone at my pediatric office and local pharmacy. And I’ll know that in a few years my child will develop a superhero resistance to germs and will most likely receive a perfect attendance award in kindergarten.