If faking illness to get out of school was an art form, I would have been a master in my childhood.
I loved staying home, laying on the couch in my pajamas and watching TV all day. My mom would make me toast and bring me juice.
So when my sons reached the age of “faking” it, I knew I had to do something to squelch their love of staying home from school when they weren’t really sick.
A few weeks ago, my 8-year-old went to the office at school. I had just dropped him and his brother off less than 30 minutes earlier.
“He says his stomach hurts,” my husband told me after taking the call from the school office. “I’ll go get him.”
I was supposed to volunteer at my daughter’s preschool that day. I was irritated. I knew darn well my 8-year-old son wasn’t sick.
He came home and immediately put his pajamas back on. He sat on the couch and started watching TV.
After an hour or so, he asked if he could play video games.
“No way, you’re home sick,” I said.
But the real consequences came later in the day. When it was time to load up everyone in the car to pick my 9-year-old up from school, I casually set a birthday present on the front seat.
“Why are you bringing Luis’ present?” my son asked. “I’ll bring it to his party later on.”
“Oh no you’re not,” I said, dropping the bomb. “You came home sick from school. You can’t go to the birthday party.”
“What?!!” he whined. “But I feel better now.”
I’m sure you do, I thought, but you’re not going.
My son sat in the car pouting as I handed the gift over to his friend’s mother that day and explained that my son was “sick.”
It got even worse when his older brother got to go outside and play with the neighbor later that afternoon.
I figured the lesson he learned that day would also extend to my older son, who witnessed his younger brother’s upset over missing fun stuff because he was “sick.” But as they often do, my children turned around and taught me a lesson this week, too.
On Monday, just before lunch, my 9-year-old went to the school office and said he felt like he was going to throw up.
“Here we go again,” I thought.
The school secretary told me my son had looked a little pale when he came in. She offered him lunch, but he refused it. Of course, as soon as I got him in the car, he said he wanted to go home and eat.
He did eat. And then he got sick. Again and again.
My oldest stayed home from school the next day too, but he was in much better form.
On Thursday, it was clear my 4-year-old daughter caught the stomach bug.
I guess I need to sharpen my mommy radar when it comes to some stuff. I can’t help but feel a little guilty that I didn’t believe my older son when he said he was sick.
On the other hand, the school secretary did tell me that my 8-year-old saw his brother sitting in the office that day and stopped in to see what he was doing there. She thought for sure my younger son would be coming back later in the day to say he was sick and wanted to go home.
But he didn’t.
I’m guessing he’s cured.