Many reports have already been made about the childcare situation last month. Schools were closing and there was a lot of delay. Parents felt betrayed by the lack of clear guidelines and government support. Teachers were also struggling. It was a difficult time for parents. This is a significant statement considering we are now almost two years into this particular kind of hell known as parenting during a pandemic.
Unspoken, however, is the fact that many of us lie to our children in order keep them in school.
One mother told us that her daughter was fine despite the fact that her school had a 48-hour fever-free policy. She and her partner were both busy at work, and she didn’t want to violate it. “She had a fever just before bedtime, but it disappeared the next day, so I sent her in.”
Another parent confessed to sending her child to daycare with a runny nose, slight cough, and knowing that he would be sent home by the school in the afternoon. However, it gave her some time to look after her child.
Another confessed that she had told school about her daughter’s positive Covid test. However, she regretted it. She noted that her daughter had no symptoms and went on to test negative for the entire 10-day quarantine. “I should have simply said that she had a cold. I kept her home for a few more days and then sent her back when her test was negative.
Almost every parent I spoke to admitted that they skipped the temperature checks required by many schools.
This is not a new concept. We gathered some lies parents told about the pandemic last year.
Perhaps what is different now is that the majority of the population has moved along, thanks to increased vaccine rates and looser restrictions. Parents’ lies are becoming more desperate. Parents can feel helpless even though it is two years since the pandemic began, especially if they have children under 5 years old who aren’t eligible for the vaccine.
We were told by the mom who has a 48-hour fever-free policy that although she may have thought about keeping her daughter home a few months back, after experiencing so many closures recently, she could not do it again.
Parents argue that Covid’s stricter school sick policies are depriving them of their inherent judgement. Some parents are thankful that schools do everything possible to protect their children. Most moms and fathers we spoke to are somewhere in between. We spoke with a mom whose school requires a pediatrician’s clearance to treat a runny nose. She felt confused. Is this extreme runny nose policy? Yes, it is. But if your nose is the most common symptom of Omicron and Delta, what should you do? It’s true that they are trying to reduce closures, but it just feels like a Catch-22. There’s no solution.
Parents are not always comfortable lying. My husband insists on a temperature check for my son in our marriage. I, on the other hand, think that just a touch on my forehead is enough.
Another mom shared with us that she is a hypochondriac and has never lied about school policy. “I have made my partner take Covid tests on our child if I feel that he didn’t get the Monday morning swab right. She adds that she is “psycho about it, even if it means falling off my own sword.”
Ah, yes, parental shaming. This is the harsh judgment that has never been pleasant, but has reached a new level with the pandemic. Decisions about in-person learning and masking, playdates as well as travel and vaccinations are now open to criticism.
One mom was confronted by a pandemic-specific type of mom shame when her child tested positive to Covid. This infected her whole family and led to a school shutdown.
The experience was, as one might expect, unpleasant. However, the worst part was not the mild flu-like illness that we all suffered, nor the burden of being under housearrest with two small (but eventually fully recovered) kids, nor the cost of having everything delivered for a week. “The worst thing about having my child get Covid was the unexpected and intense run-ins with shame,” she shared with us.
“See, once it became clear that no one in my household would be seriously ill by the virus, the social consequences started to sink in. First, the entire first grade class had shut down after just two days. This was a huge disappointment for parents and children, and a major headache for teachers and administrators. It was all our fault.
Mom considered staying silent as her daughter’s classmates wondered about the culprit. She decided to tell the other parents, but it was too late. To her relief, the overwhelming support she received was overwhelming.
What about the rest of us? Will the truth free us? I’m not sure if you’re right about your child’s runny nose.