I’m sure that there are many problems with friends. I’m sure that I will gradually discover the true horror which is trying to help another person, who I care about so much that some days I can hardly breathe, learn to navigate the social minefield. For now, there are only two problems with friends. The first is that we need them. The second is that every time we get together with other families we get sick.
The first problem is relatively unsolvable. We are human, and, regrettably, we need social contact with people outside of our immediate family. Partially, time away from each other reminds us that we like each other and partially because other people are entertaining.
The second problem has a simple solution. Don’t get together with kids who are sick. If only it were that simple.
In a happier world, parents would honestly assess their own children, decide if that hacking cough and green snot constitute illness (it does!), and keep their little disease vectors at home and off the shared play equipment.
The truth of the world is different.
In the real world people like being around each other. In fact, they like it enough that they will not honestly, and objectively, assess their own children. A cough that in another child would be viewed as biological warfare, will, in their own child, be brushed off as “a little congestion, probably just the wind”.
Fiona coughed every 15 seconds last night from 4am to 5am. (Yes, I counted. I’m a light sleeper.) She didn’t wake up. Her breathing wasn’t distressed. It’s just a cold, just a little virus.
I know where she caught it. We go to a play-group every other week. Since we started going, she’s gotten sick every other week, the week in between the playgroup meetings. I find myself wondering who is spreading the joy? Who should I sent the tissue bill to? Who is so desperate for social time that they’re brushing this off as “just a little congestion”?
Because, I understand. I really do.
In fact, if they want, they can come over to my house today. We’ll let the kids play; they can cough on each other and be extra crabby together. She and I can curl up on my couch and drink coffee and talk and learn how to be real people again, together. If her kids are well already, then that’s okay too; they’re immune.
I’d love to have the company, as, for now, we under voluntary quarantine. I know that no matter how lonely we are, no matter how sick of being at home we are, that this is not “just a little congestion”. This is a virus, and while it’s not a big deal for us it might be for someone else. So, until it’s over, I’m keeping my little disease vector at home.