Let me ask you all something. When you find yourself feeling unwell, or when you are clearly displaying symptoms associated with a virus such as a cold, do you go about your normal activities or do you attempt to isolate yourself somewhat from the world with the clear intent to keep as many of those nasty germs to yourself?
Someone in my world gets sick much more often than he ever used to. I have my own theories about why this happens, but over and above my views, the certain fact remains that his immune system is not what it used to be. It often seems like every other month he spends two weeks coughing and hacking and using up tissue after tissue and spreading germs across surfaces. I feel lucky that I don’t often catch those germs invading my body as they congregate in great clouds of mucous vapor or jump from non-washed hands onto kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
So, I’m not perfect. When I do get sick with a cold I admit my only thought isn’t about keeping my viral load contained 24/7. I do however, attempt to be aware of where and how I cough or sneeze, where I leave my kleenex and most importantly, what is incubating on my hands. I also try not to purposefully spend time around other folks who I know aren’t going to welcome my germs with open arms.
One such person that I concern myself with mostly when I am ill is Miss G. I am with her three days per week. She is a relatively healthy little girl, although as kids are want to do, she has picked up her share of germs from neighborhood play dates or the random grocery cart. I forgive Miss G for those germs, as I do her parents. You cannot lock a kid in a plastic bubble. Being a child’s caregiver is to expect to be exposed to germs. Usually once those germs reach me Miss G is well again so I don’t typically fear passing things on to her.
If however, I find myself with symptoms that haven’t presented in Miss G, I make every effort to tell her parents that I am suspicious that something is up. I feel that I have a responsibility to them, as my employers, to alert them that I might be set to expose Miss G, and consequently them, to a special germy gift. Because I am their only caregiver, and because they aren’t so wealthy that they can miss day after day of work, we usually just muddle through with sick grandma and soon to be sick family.
My point here is simple. If you are ill, and you know that you are ill, even if you are wanting to spend time with a child, such as a grandfather might, wouldn’t it make sense to alert those involved to your illness and at the very least ask about visiting preferences? We live 20 minutes from Miss G. We can see her anytime we want. We can also be smart enough, during a contagious viral illness, to decline an invitation to visit knowing that we will not only spare Miss G from getting sick, but also spare her family and caregiver as well.
Last Sunday grandpa visited Miss G. Grandpa had been quite sick all week and was not beyond passing the virus to others. By Wednesday, Miss G was sick. We spent that day on the couch, in pajamas, dabbing at her snotty nose while she coughed. By last night, Thursday, I felt the sore throat beginning. As I write this Friday morning, my throat is on fire. I suspect Miss G’s parents will be starting their viral journey any day now, if they haven’t already.
Of course, it’s a cold, not the end of the world. But, why the hell, when you know that you are sick, would you risk being around others who aren’t sick, one of those being a two-year old, when you have the simple choice not to visit for a few more days.
This inappropriate visit, by the way, is not the first one, not the first time this has happened. It is easy to understand that a grandpa loves his grandchild, but a grandpa is an adult, who is supposed to think and be responsible and put the health and well-being of a child, who could have easily waited to see grandpa, above his own wants, or free time, or whatever the reason was that he chose to see her when ill.
I know this is a rant, and yes I am pissed off so thank you for listening (if you are still reading) to me. I know Miss G will be better by Christmas, as I suspect both I and her parents will be also, so yes I guess I could just let this all go, but I get ticked when adults show a complete lack of reason, especially when they have a choice. How hard is it to think about someone else and simply say, “As much as I miss her and want to see her, I don’t want to pass this cold on so I’ll wait until I know I’m better.”
By just uttering that simple sentence no one would have been offended. No one would have thought that you were a neglectful grandpa. No one would be writing a nasty blog post about irresponsibility. Most important, probably no one else would be sick right now.