Friday, February 01, 2008

Pandora's Box o'Germs

When I was a freshman at the BYU, I lived in an apartment-style dorm with five other girls. We shared a back stairway door with another apartment of six girls. That door between our apartments was open a lot, and so the 12 of us all considered ourselves "roommates," more or less. We still keep in touch, eight years later, through an online message board (ladies, if I'm saying too much, give the signal). Usually our conversations are pretty tame, but a subject recently came up that has "pushed some buttons," as the saying goes.

I can't help but feel partly to blame, since I was the one who started that particular thread. It all began when I read this post on Feminist Mormon Housewives. Basically (though don't let my extremely short, slightly biased summary keep you from reading the original), one of the posters there was considering keeping her daughter out of her church's nursery program because they fed them hydrogenated snacks, used plastic toys, and otherwise did not conform to Waldorfian principles.

Most of what can be said in reaction to the above statement has, in fact, already been said in the extensive comments after the article. My feelings are pretty much summarized by comment #5:

Wow! This sounds great! I hope you have great time planning, organizing, paying for, and carrying out the whole thing as the new nursery leader! Cuz baby, that’s exactly what any nursery leader would be thinking when you handed him that rigid mess of first-time mom gone haywire."

(For anyone not really familiar with a Mormon nursery: it's for kids 18 months - 3ish, it's two hours once a week during church, and it's free. There is a central curriculum but things like snacks, toys, and specific scheduling vary on a local basis.)

Somehow, the conversation among my roommates shifted to parents dropping off their sick, symptom-displaying kids at the nursery - it happens all the time and Miriam has been the recipient of a nasty sick bug more than once because of it. And that's when the topic heated up a bit.

Personally, Jeremy and I make an extra effort to keep Miriam home (or with us at church, but not in nursery, if her symptoms aren't too bad) when she's sick. Other parents, suffice it to say, do not seem to agree with me.

Of the parents who put their sick kids in nursery, there is probably a very small minority who honestly don't think about it and don't realize the havoc they are wreaking.

The majority of parents probably do think about it, and then drop them off anyway, and slink guiltily away before their kid starts hacking his guts out, much to the dismay of the leaders and also moms like me.

But there is a third, smaller majority, as I found out during discussions with my roommates. Some parents, apparently, think about it, drop them off anyway, and think it's OK. Because kids get sick, right? So why should we do anything to stop it? This particular roommate (if you're reading this, I know I don't even have to tell you to go ahead and stick up for yourself anytime :) defined her stance as "anti Nazi-anti-germ," a camp I thought I was in, too, until now.

Is that minority bigger than I think it is? I'm interested to know your opinions on this, even if the situation (daycare, playground, art class, preschool) is different.


Liz Johnson said...

...tee hee. :)

I tend to agree with you, Bridget. But I think you might already know that.

Jen said...


I love being "in the know."

I think (well....actually...I KNOW) it's my fault the conversation switched to germs.

Herein lies the nazi-anti-germ.

Crys said...

OK that original post was CRAZY! I mean I understand wanting to be involved in your child's life but we are talking about a two hour a week block of time. I really doubt it will stunt your child that much...but if you are that crazy controlling I think the primary president should say, "I'm so glad you are willing to teach nursery now." Because my experience has been even those with the best of intentions get a little worn down after a few months. OK here is my germ story that I feel so strongly about that even a year plus later it just drives me nuts. There is a couple in our ward who have a son that has a wheat allergy. Last week his new teacher inadvertently gave him gold fish and the father freaked out mad at the teacher and the primary president.I feel bad for the kid because he gets the runs when he eats wheat but here were my issues with the whole situation. 1) The teacher was new and didn't purposely give your child a snack they should have. 2)Two you are the parent and know that the majority of this world eat wheat products. Why not let the teacher in on your situation. While the primary president tries to keep on top of these things she is definitely overworked and not paid and sometimes things slip 3) And finally is it worth it to get screaming mad at someone for giving your kid the runs especially after what you did to me. AND HERE IS THE STORY...this particular family got a very nasty flu bug when they went home for Thanksgiving last year. The Sunday after they returned from their trip the wife stayed home with the baby because she was still sick. To be a loving husband and give her a break the husband brought the sick older son to church and then dumped him on me (Not even asking by the way. In fact that wasn't the only time he gave me his son to watch even when his wife was there because she needed a break and I apparently who only had that time to nurse Grace did not) to watch during correlation meeting for an hour and a half. He did not mention anything about the flu they all had. Then during sacrament meeting I see him suddenly jump up and run out. Turns out his son had just had diarrhea out his diaper and all down his legs. So he takes him home because now he doesn't have any extra clothes. The next day I'm driving in the car with little E to pick up Big J from school. He had just had a snack of cranberry juice and a cheese stick. We pick up Dr. J and little E says, "my tummy hurts" and then he blows out chunks of pink covered cheese all over himself the car seat and the car. We rush home and get him out. Dr J takes the kid and throws him in the tub and the clothes in the washer. I spend the next two hours outside freezing, cleaning the car and car seat out. We then spend the whole night up with little E because he is throwing up and having the runs every thirty or so minutes. We watch a ton of Christmas movies to pass the time and wash our hands like crazy. Lets not forget that I'm nine months pregnant at the time and the last thing I want is to get the flu. Personally I think the whole thing was evil. I understand that kids get sick and pass germs. Some kids in fact have like a permanent cough or a permanent runny nose and so I guess I can kind of see why those people bring their kids but if your kid is throwing up, has the runs, is running a fever, or has a particularly nasty cough and runny nose why would you want to pass that little joy on? I mean for crying out loud sometimes these things just come back to get you when they go through the whole nursery, mutate and then your kid gets it again. I guess though in that case it serves you right :) Sorry that was so wordy...can you tell I'm still ticked about the whole thing?

Shannan said...

I'm kind of a combination of all of those discussions - although I didn't read the original post yet.

I'm picky about what my kids eat - but really only at home because I understand that when they "go out into the real world" you can't expect to hold other people to your standards. And besides, the children that are deprived go crazy nuts when they are out on their own. So if they are in our church nursery and they serve goldfish - great, makes church more fun, right?

But I'm also somebody who doesn't stress too much about germs. I dont' believe in antibacterial anything. Just wash your hands. Your body is made to handle germs. And you actually strengthen your immune system by battling bugs.

All that to be said (this is why I'm in all three camps) I don't take my kids to nursery or preschool if they are sporting an illness - purely as a courtesy to other people. My thoughts are that your kids can pick up anything from anywhere - I mean Jackson got chicken pox last week and we have no idea where that came from!!. But I don't have the time or energy to blame others for my kids getting sick. It's part of life. But like I said, I won't take them because I want to be sensitive to other people who are more sensitive about sick kids.

The end.

fMhArtemis said...

If you're going to read the Waldorf post, please read the follow-up post as well, here:

Bridget said...

I'm a lurker who's not afraid to comment.

I like you already. Maybe its because we share the same first name.

I graduated from BYU in nursing. The parents who don't understand the concept of contagion get a lesson from me. One of my biggest pet peeves is getting that parent who drops off their sick, feverish, snotty nosed kid in nursery.

I am very interested in this feminist Mormon housewives thing too.

Mikael said...

oh dear, I knew this was an issue but I never knew everyone was so opinionated about it.
I keep makenzie OUT if she is sick, BUT, I know there are sick kids in there and every kid will get sick anyway. It is good for kids to get sick, it builds their immune system!

michelle said...

So I don't have kids, but I'm a nursery worker. We have about 40 kids in our nursery. Our ward has been pretty clear about not bringing sick children, but there are still times when they drop off kids with runny noses and coughs. I HATE IT!! Besides the fact that other kids can get sick, I don't want to get sick! I seem to catch almost everything that goes around... So when I have children, they will not be going to nursery when they're sick. I guess the hard thing is drawing the line. How sick is too sick? We're supposed to take the child back to their parents if they're sick, but I don't know where that line is either sometimes.

About the snack thing, we have a bunch of kids with different kinds of allergies (with more sever reactions than the runs), so the nursery leader is the only one who brings the snacks. They're not always healthy; I used to cringe at giving the kids fruit loops, but then I talked to one of the moms and she said that her girl never gets fruit loops at home, so it's a special treat for nursery. So I guess once a week won't kill them. (Perhaps this last bit was more related to the original post, and crys' story)


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