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Working & Single Parenthood: How To Handle Your Kid's Sick Days

When school’s number flashes on your cell phone, your stomach drops, right? Or, is it just me? Flip flop.

I was at my freelance magazine job on Wednesday doing fashion market research and organizing a charity beauty sale when my iPhone lit up with XYZ school. My stomach dropped. Last time they called, it was because JD and another kid collided and he had a black eye. I sent my Dad to check on him then, but he was fine and remained at school.

“JD has pink eye,” his teacher said.

“What?” I said, in yes, an I-don’t-believe-you voice. Just two hours ago JD woke up smiling. He ate a pancake and banana, got dressed and washed up. He attacked me while I put on my coral silk top and black skinny jeans, claiming he was a ninja. Then he ran off with my new, right animal print ballet flat and chucked it under his bed. “Ninja power,” he proclaimed!  I applied my mascara: “You have to the count of five to retrieve my shoe.” I counted to seven over his giggling. He ran into his classroom. I stopped for coffee and drove to work.

“Are you sure it’s not allergies?” I said. I did not WANT to believe he had pink eye. Plus, I was busy at work and happy to be at work! I love working. My outfit was cute, too! I’ve been giving JD children’s chewable allergy meds every morning for a month now, because this is a bad season for him (and me!). I was convinced his eyes were irritated or just watering.

“His right eye is red and I’ve cleaned it several times,” the teacher said. “The other eye is fine.”

OK, this did seem weird.

“Is he in pain? Does he have a fever?” I said, as I scrolled through emails.

“No, he’s himself,” she said.

“Do I need to come get him?” I asked. I’m only at my freelance magazine job 3-days-a-week (I work from home the other days), so I didn’t want to jump up in a panic if JD’s eyes…were just watering.

The director of the school got on: “He has pink eye. He’s contagious. You need to come get him.”

There was no one in my family to help me out this time (I called two immediate fam members—hey, they have lives and work, too). My friends all work. I emailed my supervisor and left the office with my work that I would continue from my home office. I called the Ped on the way to the school. The nurse asked if it was allergies. Seriously!

When I got to JD’s school, his right eye was puffy, a little pink and there was a green bugery thing inching out of it (ew I know).

The Ped diagnosed JD with pink eye of the right eye and gave us gel ointment. Love it—you just wash your hands or wear sterile gloves, then smush it in your kid’s eye(s). When they naturally blink and squirm, the meds move further in. Drops are hard. Speaking from single mom experience, you can tackle your kid to the floor and squeeze the drop in, but if they close their eyes, game over and no meds get it (I have no spare hands to hold JD's eye open, ya know?).

Truth is, deep down I knew JD had pink eye (his school is awesome and I trust the faculty to the core), but I was worried about leaving work (I just got in!). I never want people to think I take advantage of my single mom status or need special treatment. In fact, [shameless plug] I have a new feature in Baby Talk’s April issue that addresses single parent newborn care including, working and single parenthood. I wish I had a secret tip to share other than try and have a Plan B helper—espeically since recent census numbers show that half of all custodial single mothers work full-time year-round. But if you’re a single working parent (with no help from the other parent) and your kid is sick, you have to take care of your kid. I brought my work home and continued it throughout the day, so I suggest that if possible. I also think honesty is the best policy. I told my supervisor the truth. I didn’t pretend to have a sudden stomach bug attack. Luckily yesterday was a work-from-home-day, so I incubated JD in the condo all day. We did art, played on his learning tablet, blocks, did the NYC Ballet Workout (LOL, yes!), he napped, we watched movies, he played with chalk on the balcony. I washed everything: bedding, toys, countertops and cooked meatballs. He is back at school today! Yay! I am Pink Eye FREE. KNOCK ON WOOD!!! 

Single parents, how do you handle working and single parenthood? Please share. Have a great weekend! We're seeing a HS production of Beauty and the Beast w/ friends and spending Palm Sunday with fam. :)  

Friend me on Facebook & follow me on Twitter @JDSMOM2007. Order a copy of my single mom memoir, Rattled! or download it @ iTunes. Check out ChristineCoppa.net for more info.

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