Should I pick up on a sick day, or not?

sick in bedLike most divorced parents, my kids have become rather like human ping-pong balls. Every 3-4 days they switch between their Mom’s house and my house, then back. Kind of like the modern version of If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium. Usually it runs pretty smooth and the kids are good at knowing where they’ll end up on a given day.

Sometimes there are complications, however, and that’s what I want to talk about here. In particular, as parents, we have a tendency to assume that on a school day the kids are all going to be at school, so from 8-3 or so, we have the time to ourselves. That means trips afield, meetings or appointments that can include turning off cellphones (like massages, etc). Good idea, or potentially dangerous?

Last week on a day that the kids were all with Linda, she had planned some meetings and was unavailable from drop-off until pickup. Not unusual, I do it too.

Until our 11yo son G- got sick at school around 11am.

What to do? He called his Mom, she had her phone turned off. He called her boyfriend, but he was in class and wasn’t answering his phone either.

So he called me and asked me to come pick him up.


I was rather stuck on what to do, frankly. I didn’t want to muddy the water of parental responsibility: it was definitely Linda’s day to take care of the children and be responsible for them, but at the same time I had a sick child in school who needed to not sit in the office for the next four hours.

I texted Linda but her phone was off, so…

So I decided to break with protocol and pick him up. After all, the ultimate issue is the welfare of the child over everything else, right? We went back to my place and my son basically collapsed on the couch for the afternoon. When it was 3pm I took him to his Mom’s house and dropped him off.

Now, do you think I handled that properly, or should I have simply said “not my day, honey, sorry, you’ll have to wait until your Mom resurfaces”?

9 comments on “Should I pick up on a sick day, or not?

  1. Not a divorced parent, but a child of divorce and YOU DID THE RIGHT THING. Hopefully your ex would have done the same.
    It is so important that your child doesn’t feel second to the drama – and you made sure he felt liek a priority.

  2. As a child of divorce as well, I agree that you did the right thing.
    In the end, you’re that child’s parent every day, not just the days you have custody, and it’s going to make a positive difference in his life knowing you’ve got his mom’s back (and hopefully that she’s got your’s).

  3. Not a child of divorce nor divorced parent, but yes you did the right thing. I cannot imagine being in the shoes of a child who is sick and one parent is available but does not come because of a formal agreement. Your son is lucky to have you!

  4. totally off the subject .. do you remember seeing If It’s Tuesday it must be Belgium in Radio City Musical Hall when you were a kid? They had the Rockettes dance before the movie 🙂 and, yes, you did the right thing.

  5. Definitely did the right thing. In my opinion regardless of what your ex (or you on your days) is doing during school hours, there should be some way for your child to reach you in case of emergencies.

  6. Absolutely you did the right thing, and frankly I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. My child is sick, they call me from school, I go and pick them up. And here’s the way I look at this: If I were still married to my child’s other parent, my son would STILL call one or the other to come and get him. And whichever one was available would do it. I see no reason for it to be different in a co-parenting situation so long as the parents share custody and live within a reasonable distance of one another.

  7. I definitely think you did the right thing. Divorce is a tricky thing, especially for children and the most important thing is to always help the children know that both of you are still a team. I think not picking your kid up would have made it be more about you then them.

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