By Joe Capell
Parents aren’t allowed to have sick days.
Parents can’t just call in and say, “Sorry, I’m not feeling well so I’m not going to be able to parent today.” You can’t say, “Sorry kids, I’m taking the day off so you’ll just have to take care of yourselves.” And you certainly can’t say, “Change your own diaper, you little punk!”
As a parent, there are three minimum requirements that you must meet for your children: 1) You must make sure they have food. 2) You must make sure they are safe. 3) You must deal with dirty diapers.
These three things have to be addressed, no matter how sick you might be. But the level at which you deal with them can vary greatly.
On a normal day, you try to make sure your kids get three good meals, plenty to drink, and have healthy snacks as needed. On a Parent Sick Day, it’s all juice boxes and Goldfish crackers. They’re eating crackers, cookies, cold cereal right out of the box, and something they found on the floor. The key is that they are eating something, and that something started out as a food product, so it can’t be too bad for them, right? We all know people who eat nothing but junk, and they survive; so will your kids.
On a normal day, you make sure your kids have plenty of good learning activities. They read books, play with educational toys, and keep television to a minimum. On a Parent Sick Day they watch a lot of television. Can they sit through eight straight hours of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood?” Sure! How about “Moana” on a loop for five consecutive showings? Okay! The key is that they are safe. If they are in a vegetative state watching television they won’t be climbing to the top of the pantry or falling down the stairs.
On a normal day, you change diapers frequently. On a Parent Sick Day you change diapers whenever the smell gets overwhelming. If it is only pee in the diaper, it’s not really a concern until the diaper gets so full and heavy that the child can no longer carry the weight of it.
So, while you can’t take a sick day as a parent, you can turn down your parenting dial from your usual 10 or 9 down to a 4 or 5. As long as you and your kids all survive the day, that’s all you can really ask for, isn’t it? (You’ll just have to find some way to get the theme from “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” out of your head.) (Good luck with that.)
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