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News From The Nest: Avoiding germs, the importance of staying away

By Stephanie Lauritsen

During the cold months here in North Dakota one of the top 5 topics of discussion at all times is the flu. Wherever we go there is sneezing and coughing. We hear horror stories of friends, family and co-workers who were in bed for a week before they felt better. Then we hear through the news and water cooler about all the different ways of prevention, many of which are totally off-the-wall but worth trying if it works.

We all try to instill in our children the importance of hand-washing, not sharing ANYTHING and of course “for Pete’s sake keep your hands OUT of your mouth!” But still, many get sick. The schools and daycares do their best, but let’s be real, it’s virtually impossible to keep our children away from germs.

Our daughter goes to a daycare center. We like to call it a “germ bath” during this time of year. They sanitize all day long and although it helps, there is no way to entirely prevent spreading of germs. So a few weeks ago when she had a bad cough with no other symptoms we decided to keep her out of daycare for three days.

Our first reason was because we felt guilty bringing her for the other kids’ sake. There is nothing worse than dropping your kid off at daycare and getting looks from other parents that say through their expression “your kid looks sick and shouldn’t be here! Keep them away from my kid!” The second reason was because her cold wasn’t all that bad, yet. We wanted to keep it from getting worse and figured one way would be to keep her out of the germ bath.

So instead of swabbing or flushing our noses with salt water, or taking fifteen different supplements we heard about on Dr. Oz, one way we try to stay healthy is to avoid those who are currently sick. And when I use the word “sick” I’m referring to a bad cold or the flu, those catchy illnesses that plague our region. Sure avoiding those who are sick may not sound very sympathetic. But let’s be honest here, most of us avoid voluntarily submitting ourselves to germs, especially this time of year. My retired parents even avoid public places as much as possible, because you just never know where the germs may be.

Apparently my son has caught on as well. He recently came home with a quiz he took in health class. He scored 9 out of 10. Of course I looked closely to see what question he got wrong. The question was; what should do you if someone is sick? And the multiple choice answers were: 1) Stay away and don’t talk to them. 2) Do something nice to show you care. 3) Give them your medicine. The unit was on medicine and safety; luckily he understood the lessons and did not choose #3.

As my son I can just hear what was going through his head as he was answering this question, mid flu season mind you. “Hmmm. Mom and Dad say I should stay clear from kids who are coughing and sneezing all the time. And, if I did something nice for someone I would have to be near them, so I wouldn’t be staying away like I’m supposed to. I guess #1, stay away and don’t talk to them must be the right answer.”

So of course he got the question wrong as the correct answer, ahem, at least according to his health teacher, was Do something nice to show you care. I have to say I was a tiny bit proud of my son. At least I know now that he listens to some of what I tell him. However now we’ll have to have the discussion that if someone is sick you really should do something nice for them, showing that you care. You could send a get-well card, call to wish them well, or maybe deliver them soup leaving it on their doorstep of course, to avoid direct contact with the germs that is.