sick mom, cooties, working with preschoolers, cootie pond

Working with Preschoolers Thrown into the Deep End of the Cootie Pond

by Deborah Cruz

Good morning from the deep end of the cootie pond. I’m on day 5 of my second illness in a month. Yes, my friends, this mom has gone back to school with preschoolers and my compromised immune system is showing.

This year is a big year for me. It’s the first year, in 14 years of being a mom, that I’ve decided to take a position working outside the home. I’ve spent the last 14 years working from home so that I could be here for my daughters.

Working with Preschoolers is drowning in the cootie pond.

I never planned on being a stay-at-home mom. But the moment they laid Bella on my chest, I knew I couldn’t leave her. I tried. God knows I tried. When she was about 18 months old, I took a part-time job as a tech at the local pharmacy but I soon fell pregnant and wanted to be home with my girls. Even being financially tight it was worth it to me to be home with my girls.

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I still want to be there for my girls (I’d also like to have a steady income to help out financially) but now that the girls are 14 and 12-years-old, I’ve decided to give working outside of the home another try. This time, I’ve taken a part-time job working with preschoolers. It’s fun and the hours are perfect and I still get to be there for my girls whenever they’re home.

In all honesty, I’d forgotten what it was like to be around preschoolers. 4 and 5-year-olds have a lot of energy. They’re snuggly and they love to share everything. They are so cute and full of wonder. I love working with these little people. They honestly fill my heart with energy that only 4 and 5-year-olds can.

Preschoolers lick everything.

There is only one caveat, they are covered in germs. Like me, they have spent the last few years of life in a bubble (we’re severely immunocompromised). They catch viruses. They’re too small and young to know to cover their mouths when they sneeze and cough. They lick everything. I mean everything. I forgot about that. Little kids stick their fingers in their mouths and touch everything. I’ve seen them lick tables, their hands after touching the toilet, each other and me.

Between the licking, coughing, sneezing, touching and finger sucking, they’re like little Petri dishes of germs. Did I mention that on the first day of work the cutest little boy in the world coughed directly into my mouth? Directly. It’s through no fault of their own. They just haven’t been alive long enough to learn not to do these things. They have no self-control and they don’t understand the word no. The only thing they know is to live and love full-on. Cooties be damned.

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Anyways, I’m on sickness number two. If you’re keeping count, I’ve been sick for the entire month that I’ve been working. The other teachers assure me that I will be right as rain after the first year. Yes, you read that right, the.first.year. I’m investing in all the zinc lozenges, hand sanitizer, boogie wipes, Kleenex with aloe and Nyquil. I spend my weekends resting and recuperating to live another school week.

There have been moments when I’ve asked myself if this is all worth it. Some days I’m not sure. But, if I’m being honest, those little cootie carriers have snuggled their way into my heart and I’m not sure I could quit on them any more than I could my own girls.

Preschoolers are the cutest little cootie carriers ever.

It’s been a while since my girls were preschoolers, moms with preschoolers how do you protect yourself from the cooties your little ones bring home from preschool?

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