Illness Etiquette

Once upon a time, when the children were quite little, we were invited for a birthday party. We arrived to find our hostess in the kitchen, baking, cutting up fruit and presenting the large variety of food on numerous plates, covering the whole kitchen bench and more.

What a sight!

Awesome effort!


But what a shame…

You see, as she is preparing the food, she explains that she had been up all night with a vomiting toddler. Two of her other children had been sick all week.

ALARMS went on. I need to have a word to the girls before the food is presented to them but still have to maintain a polite attitude towards my dear oblivious friend.

Even though I have seen it all before over the years, I still can’t help wondering why anyone would welcome us and many other families into their home with a contagious bug …

As  well as being exposed to open air and potential gastro germs, countless flies were having the party of their life, feasting on the delicious treats our friend prepared with love.


I quickly assessed the developing situation and as usual, decided to talk to my children; “Ok, girls, please don’t touch any food. I am sorry but the people here have been very sick and they are preparing the food without washing their hands, flies are covering the mouth-watering dishes and I really don’t want you all night”.  “oh… went the disappointed little faces again…ok  mum, we know, it’s always like that anyway…”

Amazing children… Only 4 and 5 years old back then, but already , they’ve learned to trust me against all temptations…


Back to the kitchen, I decided to minimize the damage and pulled my sleeves up to save as much of the regal as possible. My family was safe, but I felt highly responsible for the health of the other guests.  My friend hadn’t had a break yet, she was so busy, the bags under her eyes told me she could do with a hand.

As soon as I knew I could trust my children to look after themselves I could focus on my friend. Automatically retreating to politeness position, I decided to look only at the major task my friend had taken on, I couldn’t help forgiving her and feeling sorry for the amount of work this reception was representing.

We ended up having a great time in her kitchen, chatting away as mothers do…

The party went on, the food platters disappeared one after another. Some guests went home with extras. We managed to not touch any of the food without being noticed. We’re getting good at this game. The girls don’t even see the treats and little “bouchees” anymore. They know better.

Soon it was time to go and after the usual goodbyes and waving at the car windows we drove home with half a smile the face. We made it and hopefully we have been cautious enough to still be fully healthy in the morning…

Even though we love these people very much we were unable to relax and fully enjoy their beautiful natures.

Even my young ones understand the concept of respecting people. When they get sick, I try to keep them on track, and they listen because they know it is important, they care about others. Little children forget quickly but putting a hand over the mouth when sneezing quickly becomes second nature and is common sense for most adults. So why does one not apply this to everything else.


Now, back in my home country, it’s not much better: we kiss everyday! For saying hello, and good-bye. It is compulsory. It is rude not to do so.

Hold on, I am talking with family and friends of course. We don’t just go up to strangers and give them kisses on the chicks for the sake of it!! Lol

Anyway, this means that even if you are sick, you are expected to kiss people around the room! How about that for a silly culture hey? You could as well advertise on the street: “please walk in for your dab of free gastro today”!!! lol


Now, there is a major difference between catching a gastro at the park and catching a gastro because one of your dear acquaintances has knowingly invited you into her contagious environment.

On the other hand, after having to cancel many parties or play dates over the years, I realized that more and more of my friends had started to do the same now. They don’t feel rude anymore, and have learned to respect my issues with germs even if they don’t understand it!! Lol

I am very grateful and feel privileged and lucky to have such wonderfully understanding friends.


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