The XX Factor

The Lesson of Swine Flu Isn’t Necessarily One We’d Planned on Teaching

I’m no Protestant, but where I grew up, the work ethic was firmly instilled, religion or not. If you could stand, you got out of bed. If you could walk, you walked yourself right into the bathroom, put your clothes on, and went to school. In my family, only actual, active vomiting really constituted an excuse, and even then, under certain circumstances (big test, a team commitment), you might just be handed a bucket.

It’s clear that in the case of pandemic flu, those rules can’t and don’t apply (it’s also fairly clear that maybe they weren’t the best rules in the first place). But if you’re lucky enough to have kids home with only mild cases of the flu (blogging parents are reporting fevers that come and go while kids stay full of energy and schools requiring that kids stay home for seven days ), what’s surprising isn’t so much how difficult it is to deal with missed work and bored children. What’s surprising is how wrong it feels to let a kid who’s not feeling that bad just … stay home. It feels too lenient. It feels indulgent. Won’t they learn that when the going gets tough, the tough watch a Scooby Doo marathon?

Maybe they’ll learn that sometimes, the most responsible thing to do is admit that the world can keep going without you for a while.