Thursday, April 30, 2009


I started my day by dropping off hand sanitizer in the kids' classrooms. But, hang on, I'll get to that in about 542 words.

By nature, I'm not a worrier.

I come from a long line of non-worriers. We don't fret, flap or kvetch. Ask my friends. They'll tell you they've never seen my mom worry about me in all the years they've known me. She may have been strict at times, but she never worried about me once I was actually doing something potentially worrisome -- over-nighting at camp for a week as a first grader, driving tour buses in Alaska across the Yukon, traveling solo in Europe, flat broke with two kids and waiting for Mick to get into dental school -- you get the picture.

Likewise, I don't worry much about my kids. But, like my mom, I do know how to play it safe: my kids can bike, heely, skateboard, and ski - but they have to wear their helmets. They can climb any tree they want - but they have to keep good heads on their shoulders. They have to be able to figure out how to go high but come back down on their own, and how to recognizes branches that'll hold, and those that'll fold. (Dane just got a good lesson in that one (mentioned in Ode) - but, see? I didn't worry. And I'm only barely worried that I should.)

But this Swine Flu business has my snout in a wad. With international travel being so prevalent, group activities so big (the potentially cancelled Bloomsday race in Spokane comes to mind), and first grade classrooms such petri dishes, I'm feeling like we're all a little vulnerable.

Last night I told my kids there's a bad flu going around to different countries, states, and cities (never mentioned the words pandemic, or life-threatening, for that matter). Told them to make sure they didn't exchange sneezes or coughs with other kids and that they washed their hands when they thought to.

I didn't realize I was so touchy about it, but when Dane faked a pout this morning and said, "You mean I can't play with my friends?" I got a little werewolfish on him. You'd think the moon had gone full when I barked, "Of course you can play with your friends!" Grrrr...

It took me a second to check myself - isn't it amazing how fierce love can be when you realize you're scared?

"Ugh, I'm sorry," I conceded, retracting my claws. "Of course I want you to play with your friends. I just want you to be safe, maybe just consider germs a little more than usual."

See, I can say these things to my kids. They don't obsess about germs or danger. They just kind of file stuff like this away and pull it out when they think to. That's why Dane took a second kicked ball to the jaw as goalie last practice and took himself out for a few minutes. Doctor said Dane's trouble opening his mouth without pain to his ears, and the sore muscles in his neck, meant his jaw was slightly sprained, but he'd be able to eat hard foods again in a couple days.

"You gonna keep playing soccer?" the doctor asked.

"Of course," Dane said, eyeing her like she was a little bit off.

"Goalie?" she pressed.

"Well, yeah...!" That's as close as he gets to a "duh."

That night, Mick advised him not to take any more shots to the face (ha ha) and showed him how to hold his hands a little higher and closer when anticipating a shot.

"Okay," Dane said. "Got it."

So... I took two containers of hand sanitizer to school for the kids' classes today. Whoa. I was not prepared for the teachers' responses.

One, my favorite teacher there, said it was against school policy to use hand sanitizers in the classroom because studies were inconclusive about the way chemicals affect the body. I said I had a problem with this, considering a flu pandemic was imminent. Hello? Level 5 out of a 6 level warning system and we can't have a little hand sanitizer in the classroom??? Teacher agreed. Her solution: put it in Aubrey's cubby and she can use it on her own hands all day. Okay, that sort of works for me -- although it doesn't address the germs all the other kids are mucking around in...

The other teacher didn't really know why it would be needed -- she hasn't really been following the news, but when I told her a few details (four new cities in Washington suspect it, various places in California, I could go on...) she said she was happy to let the class use the big bottle of sanitizer, and put it in an accessible place. Bless her heart, she didn't fuss about school policy, and she said she'd heard maybe it hadn't been diagnosed in Oregon because we might not have the resources or maybe people weren't coming in to be checked. Then she joked about wearing little pig snout noses to school tomorrow. "Wouldn't that be funny?" she asked. I smiled, a little caught off-guard, thinking, "Um, not really...?"

So, this is a long, roundabout way to come to my point: I feel a little vulnerable, in this unsuspecting pocket of America. I feel like we're being given some warnings, but everybody just feels really safe - even though a kindergarten girl returned from Mexico on Sunday and her family hadn't even heard of the ordeal when they were down there. They heard about it Tuesday after they'd just been hanging out in Ashland for a few days.

I hate to say it, but I'm worried. I'd love to simply handle all this by holing up in a cabin in the woods, with a spare room full of canned food, and homeschooling my kids for the next couple of months. Maybe even the next couple of years, since a recent news report suggested the threat might go away in the heat of the summer, and come back with a vengeance next fall.

Don't even get me started on my lectures to Mick about using hand sanitizer in his dealings with the public in his clinic. And you'd better believe I'm pushing the face mask...

Some additional info to consider if you've read this far:
Hand sanitizer hoax
Hand sanitizers need 60% alcohol to be effective


anjie said...

I really do feel like a dope for thinking about this stuff. Even with 111 cases in 13 states right now, things are still being described as 'mild.' I should probably just give it a rest and chill.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anjie,
First off, YOU'RE NO DOPE! Well, we already knew that, you genious,you.

Next, It's better to be CONCERNED about this situation than to sit back casually with a nonchalant HO-HUM, this won't affect me or my family.

I do believe in talking to God - praying. God listens but He is not the only acting. He expects us to act with Him.

God has prepared experts that we're to listen to. They've got information that's come from learning and experience and concern for humans. They care.

Worry is not of God, but being wise and concerned about various issues are valuable traits and acting on them are critical. You certainly were right to 'bring in' the sanitizer.

Better to be over prepared than under. We'd have lots of "would haves" to deal with if under-concerned and then the situation really became
serious, You can't and shouldn't let that happen.



& remember GOD LISTENS.

Shanana said...

I am not much of a worrier either, but it does give me pause, peering in and sticking my hands in the mouths of kids who live 2 1/2 hours from the Mexican border right now.