A frustrating morning. Ruadhri has been sick all week with a very bad cold that has left him tired. So he’s been off school, obviously. Anyway, his teacher phoned me up today and quoted at great length from French law (which I really did NOT appreciate) to inform me that when a child is off for more than 4 half-days (that’s the peculiar unit of measurement they use here), you must provide a sick note. It doesn’t matter that you know jolly well that your child isn’t well enough and write a note to tell the teacher that. The powers that be clearly think that all parents are idiots who are intent on keeping their children at home for no reason whatsoever. No, you must waste yours and the doctor’s time, expose yourself to God-knows-what in the waiting room while you sit there for the obligatory two hour wait, and then get a piece of paper stating the blindingly obvious. Your child was too poorly to go to school.

So now I understand why there are so many illnesses spread about at school. Some parents are sending kids back before they’re properly better, and are still infectious, because they’ve had the two allowed days off. I can’t say I blame them. It’s no fun giving up a morning of your life to visit the doctor’s unnecessarily. And I’m not sure how parents who work outside the home would manage it, without taking time off work. Those of us that work from home have to take time out too, of course. And if you’re not working, you’re not earning. But it’s not fair to inflict your child’s disease on other kids at school either.

I think a rethink is due here. Give parents credit where it’s due and let them provide the sick note for up to a week’s absence. Even relatively minor illnesses – tummy bugs and bad colds – can mean staying off that long, as the kids are left tired even once they’re better. The current system is overburdening doctors, lengthening the queues in the waiting room, infuriating sensible, responsible parents and frankly doing more harm than good. That’s definitely not what the doctor ordered.