How Much Work Could I Get Done If I Didn’t Have to Go to Work?

Today I was awakened by the only thing worse than my maddeningly loud alarm clock (I will never understand why our friends in China couldn’t have added a volume setting… and they think they can rule the world… ).

The Evil Spawn marched into our bedroom and announced she just spilled (this is her nice phrase for… well, you can figure that out).Being Sick Stinks.

At first glance, that sounds bad.

On second glance it didn’t smell that great.

But trust me, it’s not as bad as it used to be.

If you have (or had) small children you understand what I’m about to say.

When kids are little they get sick.  A lot.  And worse than that, it happens wherever they are standing/laying.  Don’t even get me started on their ability to project yesterday’s dinner.

No matter how loud you scream “Get in the bathroom!”, they never budge.

They just stand there, look helpless, and cry.  It’s not a pretty picture.

Basically, they are a custodians worst nightmare.

As they get older, they gain the sense where they can actually anticipate oncoming sickness.  This will serve them well in college.

Of course, if they get sick in college, it’s most likely their own fault.

So today after 2 weeks of Winter Vacation and 2 additional Snow Days, she is ill.

How does this happen?

Why does this happen?

Why doesn’t she get sick on a Saturday morning (preferably during soccer season, but I digress).

This means on very short notice at 5:30 am, we had to implement the Alternating Parent Plan.

This highly structured and detailed document is basically mom and dad taking turns staying home from school when the Spawn is ill (I hate to call her Evil when her belly hurts).

At times like this you realize how great it is to be an educator.

They don’t have subs at the factory you know.

Under Section 2, Paragraph 7 of the Alternating Parent Plan it stated very clearly that today was my day.

My first though was “Ugh”.  Suddenly, a Monday at school didn’t sound so bad.

While the bad news piled up on me, so has the laundry.

Plus, as a father I’m not qualified to make the tough medical decisions that come with an 8 year old and her arch nemesis… the flu.  Turns out my high school guidance counselor was right when she told me becoming a doctor was a great career for the smarter kids.

But we are getting by.

Primarily because mom emails on the hour and came home at lunch to check on us (yes, both of us).

The good news is I’m not at work.

Which strangely enough means I can get a lot of work done.

Even with the constant cry of “Dad” in the background (sometimes I even respond), I’m able to whip through my School To-Do List.

No interruptions.  No phone calls.  No angry ________________ (feel free to fill in the blank with just about anyone).

Computers  are great.

There’s no way I could get all of this work completed 15 years ago.

On the other hand computers can be bad.

While I have accomplished a lot, I didn’t have time to watch the Price is Right.  Even though I’m not at work, I’m still working.

Progress is good.

But it hasn’t improved sick days.

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Sick Day. Work Day. Sick Day.

My Evil Spawn missed 3 days of school this week. Thermometers Have Come a Long Way.

Much to our surprise she wasn’t suspended.  Just sick. 

Maybe the suspension will come later.  Or maybe she will just be incredibly sneaky and not get caught.  Either way, any chance of her having perfect attendance is gone.

Someone will undoubtedly email me to let me know that I’m way too negative when I blog about my Evil Spawn/daughter (odds are the email will be long, angry, hate-filled, use abusive language, and question my ability to parent… and it’s 50/50 that it will be from her mother).

I’m not negative.  I’m a realist.

While she is a very good little girl (even though she thinks she’s 37 and my boss), there is no doubt in my mind that she will have some ups and downs as she makes her way through what will no doubt be several school systems (some she may leave… some she may be asked to leave…).

I’m the exact opposite of those parents who think their kids will never do anything wrong.

My job is not to make excuses for her.  It’s to help prepare her to deal with the mistakes (and trust me, they are coming… between the ages of 12-18… in bunches).

At least for this week, no suspension.  Just sick.

Much to our surprise she didn’t have the Swine Flu.  Not that we would know because we are way too cheap to shell out the cash to have her tested for H1N1.

So we just decided it wasn’t the Pig Disease (really no different than people deciding they have it…).

She had a sore throat, headache, high temperature, and was really lazy.  Although it’s hard to tell if the lazy thing was part of the illness or just regular behavior.

Since she didn’t feel well, it meant one of us had to stay with her.  Evidently, the government has some sort of rule that says little girls can’t stay at home by themselves and watch 72 straight hours of Nickelodeon unless they are accompanied by an adult.

This makes no sense to me, but neither did all of the financial bailouts.

We have a system at our house in which we take turns staying home on the spawn’s sick days.

Since I lost the coin flip, I got days 1 and 3.  My wife got day 2.

I learned a lot during my 48 hour stretch in sick prison.

One Regis Philbin has dyed his hair a disturbing color of dark brown.  This would have been appropriate about 60 years ago (when he was 18).

Secondly, thermometers have come a long way.  I had no idea the ones with batteries were so easy to us.

When I was a kid, my mom stuck a cold glass tube that was filled with mercury in my mouth.  I then had to hold it under my tongue (while gagging) for 37 straight minutes.

That’s if I was lucky.

If I wasn’t lucky she stuck it someplace besides my mouth.

I would blog about these incidents, but I’ve done my best to suppress most of those memories.

In today’s world of technology, kids can take their own temperature.  Which mine did about every 8 minutes (during each and every commercial break).

While her temperature went up and down, she wasn’t sick sick.  I was very thankful for that.

I want to be a good dad, but I’m not overly interested in the throwing up process.

Evil Spawn calls this “spilling”.

The very first time she got sick (at the age of 2… or 7… if you need to know the exact time line you will have to ask her mom… I’m just the dad), she was so apologetic for “spilling” and making a mess on the floor.

And on her pajamas.

And the couch.

And the windows.

And the ceiling.

You have probably figured out why I’m not a big fan of the “sick” sick.

The third and last thing I learned was even when you aren’t at work, you are still at work.

While technology has made thermometers better, it hasn’t improved some other parts of my life.  Like making things simpler.  I thought the ability to access information, email, and be in constant contact was supposed to help.

It doesn’t.

A sick day used to mean I was totally cut off from the world for a day (or in this case, two days).

There was something peaceful about that.  It made you slow down.  And rest. 

And enjoy the Price is Right uninterrupted.

It today’s world, you just keep going.

And going.

And going.

It’s almost like there isn’t time to be sick.

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Snow Days and the Swine Flu.

Both of these are colossal pains in my… neck.

When you think about it, they are quite similar (besides being a pain in my… fine we’ll stick with neck).This Isn't Enought Snow to Cancel School.

Don’t believe me?

Both give you the chance to stay in bed and watch the Price is Right (no offense Mr. Carey, but I miss Bob Barker).

Granted one may cause you to stare into the bottom of the toilet bowl; but other than that, they have a lot in common.

Both may provoke the closing of schools this winter.

Both are covered on the local news in a way that makes you think the world is coming to an end.

I could go on and on, but that’s all I’ve got.

The Crisis of 2009 is the Swine Flu.  Of course it’s only “The Crisis” until something more exciting happens.  After all you can’t expect CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News to cover happy uplifting stories.

I really believe when something more “entertaining” (sadly, it will likely be horrific or involve rich people stealing our money…) comes along, we will have heard the last of the Swine Flu.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this is the crisis to end all crises.

There’s no way it’s bigger than Y2K.

Okay, bad example.

Humans like to be scared.  We love rumors.  We thrive on drama. 

Most of all, we fear the unknown.

The Swine Flu is all of these wrapped up into one mysterious disease.

As an added bonus, pigs are gross.  Who wants to get sick from something that started with dirty farm animals (I’m hesitant to speak for the group… but not me)?

Long story short, the Swine Flu has caught America’s attention.  At least for now.

Who cares that the southern hemisphere is just coming out of their winter (and flu) season and they found the Swine Flu to be less of a big of deal than predicted.

We’re Americans.

And if we say the Swine Flu is going to be huge, it’s going to be HUGE.

At least until something else comes along.

It reminds me of Snow Days (without the shots of course).

Each year, parents and students focus on whether school will be dismissed because of snow.  The excitement continues to build as rumors of an impending storm spread like wildfire. 

The news media (i.e. those weather people who are almost always wrong) like nothing more than to fan the flames.

For a school administrator the first snow of the year is always the worst.

An inch can cause people to go completely ballistic.

The phone rings off the hook at school just as soon as the first snowflake hits the ground (sometimes days in advance… and I’m not kidding).

Winter Weather Crises come in 5 Stages:

Stage One – the initial news reports (a week in advance) saying we could get between a single flake and 1 inch of light snow.

Stage Two – sheer panic by the general public that if school is not dismissed literally thousands of people will die on the streets in car accidents or by starvation (hence the run on stores for food… which usually means cookies, soda, and renting a movie).  Total strangers, without children, repeatedly call the school to say the administrators are idiots (sorry, this has nothing to do with a snowstorm… this is just an average day).

Stage Three – school is cancelled and everyone survives to go sledding or the mall by 10:00 am.

Stage Four – later that same winter (after 8 other storms) an actual blizzard drops 29 inches of snow in 30 minutes (that’s a lot).

Stage Five – parents call the school, begging the administration not to dismiss because they are sick of having their children at home and they need to go to work.

I wonder if the Swine Flu Crisis won’t go much the same way.

Initially everyone is in a panic.  This will be especially true when a school district has their first student with Swine Flu.

But what happens when the 7th, or 19th, 52nd, or 1,000th person contracts it?

Will everyone still be as paranoid?

Or will we send our kids to school and go back to work?

Time may prove me wrong.  It has before.

I can’t tell you how silly I felt when I locked myself in the basement with beef jerky, bottled water, and 37 People Magazines as I anticipated Y2K.

Excuse me if I don’t trust the government and the news media.  But as the president’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said, "Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before."

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Everyone Has a Price. When it Comes to Tenure, What’s Yours?

I was reading an article in the New York Times about Michelle Rhee, the Chancellor of Washington D.C. public schools who has a dramatic idea on how to improve education.

She wants teachers to give up tenure. And earn more money.

Actually it is a little more complicated than that. Here is the link.What's Your Price?

To quote Ms. Rhee, “Tenure is the holy grail of teacher unions, but has no educational value for kids; it only benefits adults”.

The Washington Teacher’s Union has been hesitant to take her up on the proposal.

This blog isn’t about whether tenure is good or bad, but the amount it would take for you to give it up.

So would you?

Give up tenure? For a price?

And what is your price?

Don’t kid yourself, everyone has one. Mine is $2,000. Not a penny less. Alright, who am I kidding? $45. But that is my final offer.

You add that onto my salary each year and I will take my chances.

This may sound foolish, but in these tough economic times I think most people might settle for less than you think.

I would be interested if given this opportunity, but is there anyone else? And what amount would it take for you to roll the dice and work without tenure?

This may not be for everyone, but is it for you?

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.