Kendall said he was sick. He’d even acted sick the night before, uninterested in… brownies. Red flag.
Then this morning, he was still claiming not to feel too hot despite having plans after school that hinged on his school day attendance… a playdate. Red flag.
Even as I threw down the gauntlet (no school, no playdate, no Wii), he still was claiming to be sick. Red flag.
What to do, what to do. His chief symptom seemed to be a bad attitude. This could be documented worldwide on Monday mornings.
Then he started with the cough and one watery eye. True, he’d had the crud for the last few weeks. The kind with no beginning or end. He could cough here or cough at school. Either way he would feel about the same. In fact, studies show that children who aren’t really sick actually do fine in school.
I was in a quandary. So I called my husband, the stalwart of truancy laws.
“Sure,” he said. “Keep him home.”
What? I was counting on him to whip us all into shape and into the minivan. The clock was ticking ever closer to 8:50 a.m.
OK, confession: This was hot off a 5-day Thanksgiving Day vacation. The sun was shining and I hadn’t been out for a run in a week. Also, I had a lunch date with a woman who would not spill her drink or refuse to eat the brown edges of her food.
“But he's fine,” I said. This was a role reversal of unknown magnitude.
“Hon, I’m on the roof, gotta go.”
It turned out I was quizzing Tim while he was swinging trusses 20 feet in the air. I’d wasted this distraction on getting Kendall a freebie?
So. I let him stay home.
This involved rescheduling my playdate, his playdate and my run.
So. He was sick until 10:15 a.m., the time it took him to get bored on the couch.
I panicked. I’d been duped. The kid was bandying about ideas like Beyblades, YouTube videos and, blasted, hide-n-seek.
He isn’t sick, I screeched in my head.
“You aren’t sick,” I screeched at him. “Get in the car!” (This last part included theatrics on par with anything YouTube can dish out.)
But I attacked too soon. My prey was only half out of the hole and his reflexes sharp. Just like that, he darted back in.
I took note. He’d upped his game. Brownies, Wii and playdates were expendable. I was dealing with a child I barely knew anymore.
There was a lot of arguing then, back and forth. Finally, we agreed (I caved). I granted him a stay of execution.
This turned out to be the good part. He curled up on the couch with me and I got in a 15-minute nap when I would have otherwise been blowing my run on triple cheese pizza.
Then, about 1 p.m., it happened. His ear started to hurt. This caused a rise of satisfaction in me. Sick but true. I was right to keep him home, I knew it. An ear infection was in the works. Not only was I a good mom, I was psychic mom.
So, with my motherly glow about me, we headed to the doctor. Who, with a slight pause for emphasis, informed me his eardrum was about to burst. I looked across the shiny floor to my son and, without a flicker, asked, “Jeez, Kendall, why didn’t you speak up sooner?”