Advice

Ask Ada: My Friend Has Been Lying About Exposing Us To Coronavirus

Plus: how to find resources for a disabled child during a pandemic.

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Welcome to Ask Ada, Folks’ bi-weekly advice column for people impacted by health issues or disability. Want Ada to help you with a problem? Email Ada at askada@pillpack.com or tag @folksstories on Twitter with the #askada hashtag.

My Friend Has Been Lying About Exposing Us To Coronavirus

Dear Ada,

I’ve been paying a friend to provide childcare in my home throughout this pandemic while I work from home. She’s here all day 3-4 times a week, and before we started this arrangement, we had a talk about what levels of comfort we both had for social distancing. My friend swore that she wasn’t spending time with anyone outside of her household and that she shopped no more than once a week, and if anything were to change in her exposure level, she would tell me, as my spouse has cancer, and we’re very scared about his exposure.

Well, I just found out from another friend that our caregiver has not been socially distancing. She’s been posting pictures of herself with friends at the beach or hosting get-togethers in her yard. She’s blocked me from seeing these on Facebook, but all of our mutual friends can see this. This is insane! She’s been good with our kids and I was hoping she’d stay here and help implement online learning in the fall if that’s what the kids’ school district were offering. How should I proceed?

Fire her.

I want to be sympathetic because your child care provider is actually a friend, but this isn’t a friendship and more importantly, it’s not safe for your family.

There’s no way you can continue working with her. It would be one thing if your friend opened her social circle without speaking to you about it (not that that’s okay). But, the issue lies in the fact that she knowingly manipulated what you could see on social media so that you didn’t find out about her activities. You can’t trust her now, and she’s proven you won’t be able to trust her in the future.

Your spouse’s safety is more important than any friendship. Even if your friend had extremely limited access to them, she’s still potentially exposing your children, your household, and yourself to the coronavirus — or any illness for that matter! Other viruses, germs, and bacteria didn’t simply disappear when COVID-19 presented. 

Fire her… Your spouse’s safety is more important than any friendship.

Your family deserves someone who is trustworthy. It’s great that she’s been a positive influence on your children’s lives so far, but there are other individuals who will also be great caregivers that will put more effort into safeguarding your family. It’s best to focus on finding someone new now, before the school year begins. This way your children can acclimate to the new person before they become the person to help them with their schooling as well.

Are you wondering if the friendship is worth saving? That’s an easy one: it’s not. This woman is supposed to be your friend first, employee second. Your spouse’s cancer wasn’t a secret from her. You met before the arrangement began and you both committed to sharing any changes in your respective exposure levels. Not only did she not respect the boundary that she completely agreed to, but she manipulated you in order to do what was best for her — to get a paycheck and to socialize how she pleased.

No true friend would put you in a position like this. 

Calmly call her and let her know that effective immediately you no longer require her services and pay her right away for any unpaid hours. It’s up to you whether or not you want to get into your friendship on this call. If so, you can tell her how disappointed you are that she lied to you and be firm that you’re choosing not to continue the relationship. By approaching this call with a level-headed attitude and the confidence to share your feelings, you’re not creating a dramatic situation. If your friend makes it that way then you have the option to end the call. 

You don’t owe her anything (well, besides those unpaid work hours!).

Resources For Learning Disability During A Pandemic?

Dear Ada,

I think my child has a learning disability. I’m noting that when she’s writing, she writes many letters backward, and she seems to really be struggling with letter and number cognition at this point. She’s entering 2nd grade in the fall, so I wasn’t really worried in the past school year since she’s so little, but the more we practice this summer, the more I’m convinced something is actually wrong, and it just didn’t get noticed because of her age, and the shortened school year last year. With schools closed, who do I turn to for help with this? Learning has been a major struggle this summer and I’m afraid my daughter is really struggling with anxiety because she’s having so much trouble. I want her to get any services she needs, I just don’t know where to find them.

You’re not alone. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, one in five children suffer with learning or attention issues, which means there’s a lot of parents out there worrying!

While we won’t be able to determine here whether or not your child is actually experiencing any issues, there are people who can help you figure this out, namely individuals in the school department and your pediatrician.

First, I know it’s not a “normal” time, but have you tried reaching out to anyone at your child’s school? Even if you’re on summer break, there should still be administrators available to help you navigate this. If they’re not in the schools, try calling the school department. If there are no education specialists available to screen your daughter, push for any help you can get right now, but be patient for the fall. Even if schools begin with remote learning, the specialists can adapt to working with your daughter via video conferencing. 

For now, your child’s pediatrician can also be a great help, especially since you have less access to your child’s school in the summertime. Call the office to schedule an appointment and let them know what your concerns are. Your daughter will be given hearing and vision screenings, and you’ll be asked for a detailed history and a symptom list. Then, they can refer you to community resources, and any specialists, if needed.

You mention that you’re worried your daughter is suffering from anxiety. While I so admire your dedication to keep learning during summer vacation, you might need to change your approach as you figure out how to best support your daughter. For example, if she’s having trouble writing her letters in the correct direction, maybe you could shift your focus to letter cognition instead of writing. Try having her trace shapes other than letters to keep her comfortable with “writing”. And if you’re sensing her struggle, keep adapting to encourage learning without stress. 

Your worries are understandable, but it’s just as important to keep her enthusiastic about education as it is to practice specific skills she’s struggling with.

Your worries are understandable, but it’s just as important to keep her enthusiastic about education as it is to practice specific skills she’s struggling with.

Most importantly, talk to your child honestly about it. You want her to understand that there’s nothing wrong with her if she does get diagnosed with a learning disability. She’ll understand that something’s changed once an IEP plan takes effect, so empower her by being both honest and optimistic. Explain what the diagnosis means, how you’ll support her so she gets additional services to help her learn in the way her brain does best, and that you’re proud of her for all her efforts and commitment to learning. 


Are you facing a problem that is being complicated by a health condition or disability? Folks’ advice columnist Erin Ollila wants to help. Email askada@pillpack.com and tell us your problem.

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