Care and Feeding

My Mom’s Unreasonable Concerns Are Making My Daughter Physically Ill

The last time we tested her, she projectile vomited.

A little girl lies in bed, hugging a stuffed animal.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by hanamirae/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

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Dear Care and Feeding,

My daughter is too young to be vaccinated and unfortunately brought COVID home from daycare a couple of weeks ago, which we contracted, despite being vaccinated and boosted. My parents, who are vaccinated and twice boosted, like to take my daughter once a week, although we also have full-time daycare.

Recently I mentioned to my mom that we would be attending a family barbecue over the holiday weekend, and the only reason I was comfortable attending was that we are literally two weeks post-COVID and in our 90-day immunity period. My mother responded that if we were going to attend the party, we’d have to test our daughter before they saw her as planned next week. I didn’t like the idea but didn’t say no to it at the time. My husband and I talked and we have decided that her request is too much given there’s no way we’re contracting COVID at the barbecue or anywhere else right now since we just had it—and the last time we tested our daughter, she projectile vomited because she was so worked up. I would like to tell my mom that I get that she has the right to make any rules she wants about people coming into her home, but we won’t be subjecting our daughter to an unnecessary test, especially when my parents are still dining out in packed restaurants, going to gym classes, and gathering with their own friends. To be clear, I’m not against testing, just against testing a 3-year-old who just had COVID. Am I being short sighted and unfair to my mom? Or is she just wrong?

—More Covid Questions Because It Won’t Go Away!

Dear MCQBIWGA,

First, congratulations on being temporarily immune (I am in the temporarily immune club too, as I just got over my own bout of COVID. As a look-on-the-bright-side person, I am focusing on the unusual and delightful feeling of going about my business without fear—for the first time since March 2020). I think you are absolutely right: There is no reason to put your child through a COVID test right now. But this standoff between you and your mother seems silly. If she’s not comfortable caring for her granddaughter right now without testing, and you see no reason to test her, just use daycare instead of grandparent care (for goodness sake, you already have it at your disposal!) that day next week. I understand that this will upset and/or anger your mother. But muster all your will to recognize that that’s her problem, not yours. Don’t get caught up in it, don’t waste your breath pointing out that she is doing many things that are riskier than spending time with your daughter, don’t argue with her, don’t mention that she’s being unreasonably controlling (it sounds like she doesn’t want you to go to that barbecue!), and don’t keep explaining. You’ve made yourself clear. Just say you understand and that you’ll rely on daycare while your mother is worried. (Honestly, it makes no sense to me that she’s concerned about a barbecue and not about the four days a week the child spends in day care, or about her own restaurant-going, but I don’t even want to think about this because it gives me a headache.)  Your mom is not the boss of you.

—Michelle