It’s Not All Mary Poppins


Hang on while I dry my hands, okay?

There’s a cold going around. It’s just a cold. In the interests of all of our continued employment, I don’t make parents keep their children home for colds. If there’s a fever with it, yes, they stay home. If there’s a mystery rash with it, they stay home. But if it’s a garden-variety cold, just a cough and a snotty nose? Unless the child is so under the weather that they are miserable, they can come. Odds are they got the cold here, anyway.

I think I’ll just go wash my hands now. One of the kids just walked by the keyboard. You never know.

Lest your delicate blood pressures be pounding in your ears at the very thought of a sniffly, snotty child at daycare, remember that maternity leaves in Canada are a full year long. Thus there are very rarely any children less than a year or so old in my care. If I had a babe in arms in the mix, a solely breast-feeding child, I might be more protective/restrictive. But year old children? All of them walking, almost-talking, sturdy little bodies?

They can handle a cold.

I think I’ll just give my hands a quick scrub. Back in a sec.

So can I. Snotty noses don’t gross me out much, no matter how smeary. Coughs are worse, because — Agh! COVER! Cover your mouth!! — and sneezes? Sneezes can be deadly, wet and (ugh) loaded. Blergh.

I think I need more soap. This bar’s getting a bit thin.

Until this month, a snotty cold with a lot of sneezing was top of my “grossness of colds” list. But this month, with this virus, we have a new variant. And boy, it is making the rounds. One of the parents told me that 40 of the last 60 children her pediatrician had seen were sporting this symptom.

Not a cough. Not a particularly runny nose. Not even much in the way of sneezing. No fever, either.

No, with this cold, it’s the eyes. Gloppy, glorpy eyes.

Not as bad as sneezing, really, because they don’t spray the glop. Not even as bad as coughing, because again, no spray. And two of the families’ pediatricians say the same thing: just a virus, a weird cold variant, no cause for concern.

No cause for concern, as in, it’s not damaging them. But… blergh! Their red eyes! The goop in the corners! Great globs of whitish sludge clogging their eyelids and lashes. Poor babies. And poor me: bathing those eyes once or twice an hour. With a clean cloth. Every time.

And then washing my hands.

And washing some more.

And then I catch myself pushing my hair out of my eyes. And AGH! Did I touch my eye? Did I wash my hands? Maybe I should wash them again… I think I’ll wash them again. And wash them a second time, just to be sure.

I’m pretty sure the Creeping Eye Ick is not uncomfortable. The children with the goopy eyes are not rubbing them, or poking them, or evidencing any discomfort at all. In fact, they appear to be blissfully unaware that their eyeballs are rotting out of their wee sockets.

Which means that if I get it… I won’t know. Until I’m as gross as they are.

It’s a good thing I work from home.

For now, I rely on my much-vaunted cast iron immune system.

And a whole lot of hand washing.

Excuse me.

December 1, 2010 - Posted by | eeewww, health and safety


  1. Ewwww – that explains it. Darcy had a very mild variety. Two days, goopy eyes, no other symptoms. Kids = petri dishes!

    Petri dishes is more polite than “cesspools of bacteria”, which I tend to use. 😀

    These guys have all had a cold of varying intensities along with it. Though now I’m wondering if that first one, which I thought was pink-eye and so sent him home… I wonder if that wasn’t pink-eye at all?Hmmm…

    Comment by Darcy's Mom | December 1, 2010 | Reply

  2. Tis’ the season. I am exactly the same way! Did I wash my hands? I can’t remember, I’d better wash again! I am curious, Do you get the parents of the healthy children flipping out about it? If so, what do you say?

    I generally discuss this in the initial interview, before they sign on. We go through my contract and discuss the “Sick Child Policy” page, which covers what to do with mildly ill children, and what constitutes a “keep your child home” illness. I imagine a few families over the years have chosen another caregiver as a result of my less-than-paranoid attitude to germs. Even so, I do occasionally get a parent who objects (though not to the point of flipping out, thank goodness). I’ll remind them of the sick child policy, and point out that my willingness to take a mildly ill child benefits them, too. That usually suffices. It’s never been a contentious or persistent issue.

    Comment by Chantelle | December 1, 2010 | Reply

    • And I was wondering if Mary could share the code so I could do it too!

      Comment by Jill in Atlanta | December 1, 2010 | Reply

  3. Would you be willing to think about turning off the snow coming down on your page? It’s a cute idea in theory, but it’s a bit of a distraction when I’m trying to read. It’s new, isn’t it? I don’t think I’ve seen it before, and I do like reading your stories.

    You know what? I don’t know how. It’s something wordpress offered last year, and I signed up for it because I like it. It turned itself off after the holidays, and figured that was it. Surprise! You’ll only have to put up with it for a bit, though. I assume it will turn off after Christmas, as it did last year.

    Comment by Anna | December 1, 2010 | Reply

  4. Oh. My. God. This could not be more timely. E was sent home from preschool today for gloopy eyes!

    The Creeping Eye Ick. It’s everywhere!

    Comment by anastasiav | December 1, 2010 | Reply

  5. Blerg! I’m blinking just thinking about it. Goopy, yucky, yick! …I know it’s just a computer screen, but maybe I’ll go wash my hands… 😉

    I know! I keep imagining that my eyes are a little itchy… or maybe it’s dry? They don’t feel quite… right. They are FINE, of course, just FINE, but try telling my neurotic unconscious that. Sure will be glad when we’re done with this particular bug!

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | December 1, 2010 | Reply

  6. My son gets the goopy eyes every time he has a cold. You know what that eye gunk is? Snot. Yup, the same stuff that comes out the nose. It’s just moving in a different direction – up instead of down.

    You’re so very, very welcome.

    I was afraid of that… Blerg.

    Comment by mamadragon | December 1, 2010 | Reply

  7. Mary, I think your policy is emminently sensible and its the same one that was in place when my kids were in day care (and they started and 6 months and 2 months of age. Self employed.)

    I really hate it when parents get all crazy about routine germs. Yes of course if your child is immune compromised, you need to worry (but you are probably not searching out daycare either).

    Also worry if you find out little Jimmy has menengitis and was at daycare yesterday. But those cases are rare.

    Unless your family lives in a bubble, they will be exposed. I actually found it was beneficial as their immune systems were fully charged by JK and missed very little school because of illness.

    Comment by Diane | December 1, 2010 | Reply

  8. The up-side to all this goop is that if you stay in the business long enough you develop a hell of an immune system. And what do you suppose it means that I didn’t notice the snow until someone pointed it out?

    Very true. I think I have that immune system. I don’t often get sick, and when I do, I’m generally better in about half the time it takes anyone else. (I read your second sentence and thought ‘snow? what sno– oh, right’… I think we’re in the same boat.)

    Comment by jwg | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  9. My doctor recommends using no tears baby shampoo for all those eye related ickinesses (pink eye, random viruses, allergies). Just wash your eyes (lids closed) with the stuff same as you might if you were washing your face. My son got to skip antibiotics when pink eye made the rounds because we splashed baby shampoo soapy water in his eyes a couple of times a day. Works like magic!

    An excellent tip! I shall buy a small bottle next time I go grocery shopping. Thanks you!

    Comment by Blondie | December 2, 2010 | Reply

  10. We have the eye goop cold here in Wisconsin, too. My poor kids woke up without the ability to open their eyes. I’m just glad that symptom went away quickly for us…

    Comment by Kristy | December 3, 2010 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: