Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Having a Cold is NOT Being Sick!!

This post might stir up some minor controversy, but I just gotta get it out there.

A few common scenarios I run into:
- Someone posts on Facebook about how sick and yucky they feel, and their intentions to stay home in bed  all day.  A bunch of people write sympathetic comments, "get well soons", and ask what's wrong.  Then it comes out that the person just has a bad cough or something.
- I'm all set for a playdate with another mom when she contacts me an hour before to say that Little Johnny has a cold, so they're going to stay home.
SERIOUSLY?  Having a cold is not fun, but it's really not a big deal!  If people want to bring their kids over with a cold, I don't care in the slightest.  If my kids or myself happen to catch it, so be it.  We'll deal with it, and it will just increase our immunity for next time.  (I might answer differently if I had a brand-new baby in the house, but I'm not sure).

My definition of being sick (and I'm talking here only about "infection"-type sicknesses, not something like cancer, mental illnesses, etc.) is something that incapacitates you to some extent.  That makes you unable to carry out all your normal activities.  So, having a fever - definitely sick.  You feel like crap, and you're basically only good for lying around all day, with maybe an occasional dash to the bathroom.  A headache (especially a migraine!) or a stomachache is also "being sick" - the pain is usually so distracting that you can't move around much or concentrate on anything as well as usual.  You too should probably just lie down for a while and get yourself better.

But having a cold?  Sure, it's unpleasant.  But even with a really nasty cold - where your nose is so stuffed you can hardly breathe, your sinuses are swollen, you have a sore throat or hacking least in my experience, doesn't prevent me from getting anything done.  It's just annoying.  I can still clean the house, concentrate on a task, etc. I would never say I was "sick."

I understand that if you have something really nasty, you might like to stay away from other people as a courtesy.  I guess I appreciate the concern, but really - most of the time, I'd rather have your company and risk catching your cold.  I get colds every year - especially during the winter months - and I just suffer through them, and get on with my life, and I expect my kids to do the same.  They won't get any special treatment for a cold...except maybe some nose-sucks with this awesome device: Nosefrida.

Some of this attitude was probably picked up from my dad.  When I was in school, I had perfect attendance almost every year, because he was very particular about what constituted "sick enough to stay home."  We pretty much had to have a fever, or something that we would take pills for.  Also, I honestly didn't even know that "cold medicines" existed until college.  We never used them in our house - we were just expected to deal with the symptoms, and let them go away on their own.

On a related note, I'm not a germophobe at all.  I think getting little colds from time to time is probably a good thing, and helps keep your immune system working.  We do get colds, but my kids and I basically never get sick (by my definition). 

 I really don't wash my hands that much - only when I feel they need it.  I know you all think I'm gross now.  (But hey, I wash dishes which seems like about ten times a day, so my hands are getting clean then, at least.)  I rarely make my kids wash their hands either - with soap, I mean.  They get a necessary hand-rinse after most meals. 

My kids and I taste batter with raw eggs in it, which I don't really worry about.  But I am good about keeping things clean and washed when raw meat is involved, especially chicken because - yuck!

My kids do eat certain foods off the floor, and I think it's fine.  It would likely be a better parenting tactic to just have a clear "no eating food off the floor" rule, because Sly often has to ask me, "Mommy, can I eat this off the floor?"  But here's the thing.  If an Oreo falls on the kitchen floor, and the kid picks it right up, it's totally fine in my book.  If the same Oreo fell in the dirt on the playground?  No, leave that there, kid!  If cheese falls on the ground anywhere, it's gotta go in the trash.  It really depends on the type of food and the location.  Don't most of us adults eat something that fell on the floor from time to time?

Anyways, don't feel like you need to hide your cold germs away from my family.  We can deal with them!


  1. I'm totally the opposite. I would much, much rather have the flu than a cold. The flu I might get over quickly. A cold almost always turns into bronchitis or pneumonia around here, it means chest x-rays and coughing up blood. Maybe it's because pretty much everyone in our family has asthma... but when someone has a cold I appreciate it so much if they let us know or cancel! It might save us a hospital stay!

    1. Wow - I'm sorry to hear this! Yeah, our experience is pretty different. But I get that other people feel differently (sometimes with good reason, I see!) about colds, so I try to warn people if the kids have anything.

    2. Thanks! And if I had a friend who was okay with the germs I'd probably be okay with play dates too if nobody was too sick. Because it can get boring when we're all stuck inside for like a month!

  2. I'm probably in the middle when it comes to germs. I don't wash my hands either, heh, and Michael eats stuff off the floor, and I never let raw eggs stop me from taking a taste of whatever I'm baking!

    I don't really care that much about colds when it comes to myself--I've never let it stop me from doing anything, although I'm not gonna lie, I think colds hit me harder than most people. I have a good immune system, but once I get a cold, I often retain a cough for literally a month or two afterwards, and if it's one of the nasty colds you mentioned I can function physically as necessary but am not really myself enough to function socially! But I wouldn't stay away from someone who had one or stay in bed all day.

    That being said, I would be kind of mad if a friend showed up with "sick" kids (ie kids that had a significant cold beyond some sniffles) without at least having let me known. Not all colds are equal. With his last one, Michael woke up all. night. long. because of the congestion, which was exhausted, and he literally woke up choking and vomiting after naps just because of the post nasal drip, which upset him so much that he was crying for a good hour. Ugh.

    I also don't think colds necessarily help the immune system ... this may be entirely unscientific of me, but my brother got colds ALL the time when he was a kid, whereas I got them half as often. So you'd think by now he'd have an amazing immune system ... but he's still the first to catch everything, whereas I often get by unscathed.

    SO ... the upshot being, if Michael has a cold and we have plans, I tend to let my friends know and ask what they want, and appreciate the same. :)

    1. Wow. Apparently I have a lot to say about colds, lol!

    2. Ha - that's fine. I'm glad to hear your thoughts. As for my comments about immunity, yeah, it's probably coming from a totally unscientific place. It may not be true that it improves your immunity much - but my feelings are that if our body is capable of fighting it a cold all on its own (and since cold "medicines" only relieve some symptoms, but don't actually shorten the length), we should just let the body do what it's made to do.

      I don't mind when people warn us about colds before coming to visit (and yes, it's good manners to do so), but it's disappointing when they just assume I wouldn't want them here, and cancel on us! And if the kids had anything beyond sniffles or a small cough, I'd probably warn others as well (though I'm not sure if this has happened yet).

  3. I rarely get colds but when I do I usually feel mildly like death. Actually, my last two real colds turned into bronchitis real fast (one due to working a lot and not taking care of myself and the other due to having a weak immune system while pregnant). That was over the past 2-3 years though. So if I ever bail for a cold, that's probably why. They are few and far between but they are nasty.

    Sniffles, small coughs, runny noses... those are nothing to me. Generally I'd like to be warned so if Michael does get sick, I at least know where it is from (and if the other kid gets sicker, I can know what to expect) but I have never turned anyone away from being with him because of it. A newborn is a different deal though. The first month I would rather not have snotty (literally) little kids getting a newborn sick. ;) At least not until its baptized! Hah!

  4. Well.... I guess I would give that blah answer of it depends. When I was a kid and young adult - I felt exactly like you. A cold? Whatever. I'll sniff a little and be fine. Truly didn't bother me all that much, just an annoyance. Overall healthy kids will be fine. Then I married someone with rather significant asthma and realized that for him a "little cold" became a month long process of v e r y s l o w l y getting better with lots of coughing and being up at night. And then... with age, whatever... I developed asthma myself in my mid 40's! And now, for me - what is for most people a basic cold can settle in, cause lots of problems to the point that I have ended up on steroids because my lung funtions studies bottomed out 3 weeks after a cold and I was coughing ALL the time. Sometimes I am fortunate and a cold goes away rather quickly, but I never know.

    So, since you are young and all in your family are healthy, I see your point. For others a cold can honestly turn into something more.

  5. OK, here's my totally honest truth...sometimes, it is just a cold. "Just a cold" though, involves sniffles/stuffy noses which, in a room of three means that one child isn't sleeping because he can't breathe (and are perhaps having panic attacks because of that fact) as well as one or two of the others not sleeping because they "can't sleep while he is SNIFFING" ;0)

    Anyway, simple colds here have consequences that can cause everyone to be in a terrible place, not just the one or two that aren't feeling well. In all honesty, if I cancel a play date because someone is sick, it probably means that I'm exhausted and don't feel like dragging everyone out of the house even more than that my kid(s) are too sick to play.

    I have a friend who's husband travels every week for nearly the entire week. She is kind of a germaphobe because she deals with the sick kids on her own all week. Since knowing her, I'm much more aware of "alerting" that we are ill before any play date (with any family) as a common courtesy.

    I know that people get agitated about this. I'm kind of with you. Kids get colds and if they're around my kids and my kids get colds, so be it. It's not something you're going to avoid.

  6. Although we had different upbringings I do agree with you! I had horrible attendance record, but 75% of the time it wasn't for being sick. Since I rode horses I often had broken bones, sprains etc which meant a week at home at a time, doctors orders. When it came to being sick, my parents had the rule of, if YOU think you can't go to school don't. However, this also meant that we were expected to stay in bed, not hang out with friends, take our medicine etc.

    Fast forward to college where I get to decided if I want to go to class, my thinking is completely different. What I would have stayed home for while living with my parents I don't dare do the same in college.
    I have broken something at least once a year for the last ...10 years? It sucks, and I am usually heavily medicated but missing class in my college is a recipe for disaster!

    On a different note, I agree with the whole germ thing. When people ask "are you really going to eat that off the floor" or "why did you shake that persons hand" etc. my common answer is "I am building my immune system" :).

    I don't know if I will keep this "mantra" when I have children, but I hope I do!

    P.S. No, I would never eat cheese off the floor, my cat is happy to take care of that : D

  7. Hmm. I'm not one who lives in fear of germs. That said, having a cold cycle through my seven kids and possibly myself for weeks on end? Very much NOT something I would invite/brush off/look forward to. I need to be in good form to manage our daily activities. There's some level of exposure to everything just by going to the store, right?

    But yeah, I do call off playdates if my kids are sick and ask the same courtesy from friends. "Just a cold" in a smaller family works a lot differently than weeks of coughing, kleenex, secondary infections in even one kid resulting in a trip to the doctor with the sick older kid and her 3 younger siblings all under 4 in tow, right? I definitely do not need or want any more of that.

  8. Colds in our house quickly turn into sinus infections/ear infections for Matthew and/or Noah. As soon as sniffles start, I get all anxious and worried. And colds also mean that no one, not a single soul, has slept in days. Matthew can't stop coughing with a cold and Noah cries almost every hour on the hour. And they share a room. So when one doesn't sleep, no one sleeps. It's awful. Thus, when someone has a kid with just the "sniffles" I appreciate a warning or at least asking me if I mind if they share their germs.

    I think everyone deals with illnesses differently. What is bad for one person may be no big deal for the next person. Some colds can be pretty severe and make one sick enough to stay in bed all day to try and get some relief. One may have a higher tolerance for not feeling well. Not everyone is the same. I remember in high school being sicker than a dog but going in for all of college classes in the morning and having my mom get me at lunch. Other people just found it easier and better to miss the whole day start to finish.

    A cold is never just a cold in this house. It always ends with all of us exhausted and on some sort of antibiotics because the cold has turned into an infection. We don't hide from germs at all in this house, but when we have them, we try to keep them to ourselves. And honestly, during a cold spell (no matter who the sick one is), I am too darn tired to do much of anything.

    And don't even get me started when kids I tutor show up all sick with a cold and coughing all over everything. It makes me so mad because I bring those germs home to my poor kids. Nope. I believe having a cold is a legit illness. ;)

  9. We are on exactly the same page on this. We don't usually get sick, I hate when people cancel stuff for colds, my kids eat off the ground, and we only wash visibly dirty hand, and even then only if it's convienent! Maybe that's why we don't get sick, but probably we're just lucky and if my kids got really sick everytime something went around I'd get super-neurotic like some moms too.

  10. Absolutely agree! Haha I think I am about exactly the same as you on this! A good philosophy!

  11. I don't know. I certainly used to agree with you, but I wonder if that was because I hadn't experienced real colds until recently. I'm not one for letting the sniffles bring us down, but a real hard cold that's on it's way toward becoming an ear infection, those I take pretty seriously. And there's also RSV. There are colds and then there are COLDs. Maybe we need different names for different levels of intensity? If I'm canceling obligations it means I'm thinking pretty hard about taking kids to the doctors, which I loath and put off as long as I can stand. Or maybe I'd cancel if there was thick snot oozing out of the toddler's nose. Things get pretty gross with the littles who can't wipe their noses or sneeze into a hankie. I'm also pretty careful about taking my kids around newborns. We do a lot of meal trains, and even if it's a close friends or cousin, my kids stay in the car if there are sniffles at any level. Okay, so maybe I am quite a bit more uptight about colds.

    Totally with you on the hand washing though. There are only so many hours in a day right? I was a dental hygienist before I had children (or maybe I still am one, just not currently employed?) and I was so overwhelmed in school with the amount of hand washing that was required. Washing hands dozens of times per day. Before gloving, after gloving, after seating the patient, just for show. I mean I get it and totally agree that when hands are going into other people's mouths you should make sure they are clean, but I went from washing hands almost never to washing them all.the.time. And then I quit working and stopped washing my hands again.

    My kids never wash they're hands. Unless they have picked up or touched a reptile or amphibian, because those are gross.