School started for my son on Sept. 4, and as of today, I think he has spent almost as much time at home as he has in class. He keeps getting sick, and since he complains that he doesn’t like school, I keep having to play an annoying guessing game as to whether he is truly ill or just feels like playing with his pirate ship for the day instead of participating in circle time.
That has got to be one of the trickier things I’ve yet to stumble across as a parent, trying to figure out if your child is really sick or if they simply don’t feel like going to school.
My mother had a very strict policy about staying home from school. Unless you had a very high fever (over 100) or were actively (emphasis on actively) throwing up, your butt was going to be hauled off to school. And sometimes even then, your odds were fifty-fifty. I was a student who normally loved school, so you would have thought she could have cut me a little slack when said I wasn’t feeling well. Being a nurse, my mother showed no mercy whatsoever, seeing as how she saw truly sick people every darn day young lady, and a kid with the sniffles didn’t qualify as sick in her book.
I was never sly enough to pull any tricks a la Ferris Bueller, so my attendance record was practically flawless. But the valuable advice I got from that movie will stay with me forever as a parent. Trust me, I am always going to walk into the room instead of hovering at the doorway. Mark my words.
As my son is still in pre-K, I tend to be a lot more lenient than my mother ever was. All right, so he will miss out on some painting and reading and social interaction, but there is no letter grade to earn or points to be missed, so for me it is not a big deal. I figure if he was going to fake being sick, as a five year old, it wouldn’t be comprised of such a detailed plan. It takes a lot of forethought to wake yourself up in the wee hours of the morning to scream that you need a Kleenex. And a cough drop. And some water…
I have a sneaking suspicion that he is having a hard time adjusting to the new schedule, but then you walk that fine line where they get sicker if you push them. And really, I’d rather have a few hours to myself than listening to him sing “A Pirate’s Life for Me” one more time. I’m selfish that way, I know. I did that on Friday, and have since been rewarded for my self-centeredness by having a hacking, snotty child less than ten feet away from me at any given moment.
I am very aware that attendance in school is an important part of success.
But I still have this feeling that my son is going to stay home a lot more than I ever did.
And maybe, just maybe, there will be a few days when we wake up and I suggest, “Why don’t we go somewhere fun today?”
Does that make me a bad mom? Or just a mom who will never have to worry about her son being chased through backyards by a deranged principal? See, I’ll be doing him a favor.