One of the children awakens in the morning complaining of an upset stomach, a condition of which he complained before bedtime last night. Does he go to school or not?
Physicians have what they call "objective findings", things that can be readily observed or verified. In this particular case, there’s been no vomiting despite the upset stomach. There’s no fever, no clammy skin and no appearing to be pale. Kids have discernible energy levels and through familiarity with the child, you can tell if the energy level is off; this is what is meant by the term "listless". In this household, each child has a different morning level – one is bouncy, one calm/level, one quiet/slow. How is he moving in relation to other mornings? Has he had drainage? Kids are notoriously poor with blowing their nose – Blow! – and drainage through the night will wind up in the stomach as it’s swallowed, contributing to or causing queasiness.
How is Junior’s appetite? If he doesn’t get something in his system, he won’t last until lunch since a child’s body burns through a lot of energy. Options for food are dry toast or dry cereal; if the stomach is sensitive, it won’t tolerate heavier foods such as dairy (butter/milk) or bananas. I’m also ruling out citrus fruits because of the acidity. The only fruit that I’d consider would be apple slices but even that’s taking a chance. For a drink, I’m giving a mix of apple juice and clear carbonated, such as ginger ale or Sprite. Then give the kid a chance to eat and see how his body responds to the food.
This is probably a morning that I don’t want to put him on a bus. If there’s sufficient time to see how he handles food, let him rest quietly and then prepare to take him to school. If things are proceeding well, then I’d probably let him go.
I’ll also consider activity. The reality is that when kids are engaged and among friends/classmates, they simply don’t pay attention like they do when things are quiet and nothing’s occurring, allowing them to focus on their discomfort.
There are no clear answers in this situation. Kids can recover well and have no further problems, or they wind up coming home and I’ve had both outcomes occur. What it does mean is that I do have to amend my schedule for the remainder of the day in the event that I have to return to school and bring a child home.
Disclaimer: This is a discussion about what I’m considering in my own situation and not medical advice. If you have questions or concerns, contact your pediatrician or family physician to discuss them.