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Monday, October 5, 2009

Should he stay or should he go?

Here we are, just a few weeks into his entire educational career, and I’ve already blown his chance at a wooden plaque at senior assembly.
This is because I, in all of my great wisdom and thoughtfulness, kept my kindergartner home from school one day this week. He spent the weekend on the couch, feeling the wrath of some stomach bug that not only made his tummy hurt, but his forehead a little warm for my lips’ taste.
And yet, bright and early on that Monday morning, he seemed well enough to complain about the clothes we had laid out for him. He ate his breakfast and peeked in his lunchbox. But a last minute check of the thermometer gave me the news I didn’t want to see. 100.4.
At this point I had two choices. I could a) give him some fever-reducing medicine and send him off to school where he’d be falsely healthy and have a fairly normal day, or b) keep him home because I knew it was the right thing to do although I knew quite well that he’d refuse to lay on the couch and beg and plead to ride his bike and I’d have to yell and remind him that he is sick and he’ll argue back that he’s of course not because he feels just fine and can he please have more ginger ale with a fancy bendy straw.
I knew in my gut that I should keep him home, so I did. I didn’t want the guilt of the possibility of him infecting his classmates with some unknown farm animal flu or something, all because I didn’t want to have to listen to seven straight hours of cartoons. Not only that, but because I recently came up with what I call the Golden Rule of Staying Home From School: “Forehead’s not hot? Not living by the pot? Then it’s off to school you go.”
But his forehead was hot, or at least just on the edge of a textbook mild fever, which means that I got the chance to pamper my nearly healthy boy the same way my family took care of me when I was sick as a child.
In no particular order, these were the things that made being sick absolutely wonderful: A sheet tucked over the couch and a bed pillow. Ginger ale and peanut butter crackers. Watching The Price is Right. The TV Guide crossword puzzle. The smell of my mom’s chicken noodle soup.
Being sick isn’t fun, but when someone that really loves you takes such good care of you? It transforms into something wonderful. Not that I’m implying that I faked being sick as a kid, because I only tried once and failed miserable. (That Golden Rule is nothing all that original.)
But I did spend my fair share of time healing on the coolness of the bedsheet with a full dose of caregiver’s love, which makes it perfectly fine with me that I never got a perfect attendance award, not a single one.
For this, my mother is entirely too proud, and I completely understand. I too am proud of my children’s absences. To me it says that I have the decency to keep misty coughs, flying sneezes and other such infectious bodily fluids out of the reach of my children’s peers. Call me selfish, but I keep them all at home for myself to enjoy.
My kids will never get that piece of paper awarding them with perfect attendance, an honor that makes no sense to me. Congratulations! Either you were miraculously lucky enough to only get sick on weekends or else managed to come to school every day, not only packing your bookbag, but also the communicable diseases that you gifted to my child that allowed him to miss school and eat his weight in peanut butter crackers and kluski noodle soup.
And the crowd goes wild.


BECKY said...

Wonderfully written! I totally agree with your thoughts on keeping a child home from school. I have similar memories, too, of staying home when I was young. I also watched TV, had a special snack of cinnamon sugar toast, lunch of chicken noodle or cream of tomato soup (Campbells!)...and the best part I think was the little dinner bell my mother gave me to ring if I needed her!

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