Sick Day Formulaic

18 Mar

The tug and pull and coercion of another Wednesday morning leaves me snarking at Vivian to get her bloody pants on, and hurry up and eat. She’s already looked up at me 3 times with those enormous brown eyes teeming with seeming pain and said

“But I’m tired and don’t wanna!”

I kept you home on Monday I say. I felt you were getting sick and in the interest of not having the health department in our home, scratching at the corners looking for the plague we’ve unleashed, I kept you home.

I go in to the bathroom, come out to her puking, but without the usual crying and melodrama that generally accompanies heaving your guts out.

“Did you make yourself puke?”

She says nothing, runs to the toilet, but is fine. Maybe it’s the cereal she tells me.

The cereal she loves, and would eat all the time.

I know her sister, she of hack hack, coughed her little head off all night and likely kept Vivian up, but that’s tired. I mean, I’M that tired all the time, what with the “Fill up my water jug” visits and the “I peed a teeny bit in my pants” visits and the “I want you to cuddle me at 3am, but only in MY BED” visits. I get by. And while she looked a little peaked, she didn’t seem that bad. Once I said we’d be lazy and take the bus the 1 km to school, she perked right up.


Of course, by the time we’re at school and I’m giving her teacher the heads up, she’s drooped her eyes again and started moving slowly. I tell the teacher that since Vivian is such a good actress, I’m sending her anyway.

“I’ve noticed she’s a good actor.” she says “I’ll watch her.”

(Her teacher is so awesome. She loves Vivian, but she is also ON to Vivian. It’s perfect.)

Walking away, it hits me that I don’t ever remember staying home as a child. I’m sure that I must have-there are very few children who are never sick, especially as small children. But remembering my mother, I would have needed to be VERY VERY sick to stay home.

How do we know? How do we decide what’s bad enough to stay in bed, and what’s a play for a day off? Does running a fever count, or is that just the body rallying it’s defences, and not to be worried about? Should there be more puke, more pain, tears, disinterest, extra whining?

I’m not good with telling with kids, not on the maybe days. I know when they are SICK, but what about those days when they just feel blah-sorta like those days you call in to work occasionally on, the day before your period when it feels like your intestines are attempting to wander out your belly button while inflating. Do we keep them home? Do we risk them knowing that exact key to a sick day?

Don’t kid yourself-it’s a game. I played the same one with my father before he stopped giving a shit. Of course I was a teenager, but it was the same formula-enough to stay home, but not enough to warrant one on one attention.  No one wants to end up in the ER after all.

But then what if you’re wrong? What if I’ve sent her and she pukes her guts out all over her classroom, all over the teacher, and she’s sitting there crying for me and just wanting to come home? What then?

How do we decide? How do you decide? Do you have a formula, or is it your gut? Thus far-I go with my gut, especially since I AM a fan of mental health days. But how does this work in your house, especially those of you with older kids?

Are ALL kids as seemingly manipulative as mine, or is mine just destined for politics?

5 Responses to “Sick Day Formulaic”

  1. Hannah March 18, 2009 at 9:21 am #

    I sent Isaac to daycare once when he had a slight fever, cough, runny nose. He’d already been home for two days, we had no alternate child care, I didn’t get sick time at my job, etc. etc. They called at 10am asking me to come pick him up. Turned out he had a raging case of pneumonia and ended up being home for another five days after that.

    I have never gotten over the guilt from that incident. I tend to err on the side of caution, although as Isaac gets older I’m starting to have more luck knowing when he’s milking it. Example: if he just wants to sit on my lap all day, and cries more easily over nothing, he’s actually sick. If he keeps telling me he’s too sick to do anything but watch TV, he’s trying to pull a fast one.

    There is no easy answer, and you know your own kids best. Take some comfort in knowing that most caring parents wrestle with this one.

  2. bromac March 18, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    Has she made herself puke before? I wouldn’t think a child that young would have that idea, much less know how to and be able to accomplish that.

    When I was in middle school I was tormented by a classmate. I would get massive stomach aches every morning and beg my mother to stay home. She knew I wasn’t sick and that I had to deal with the problems at school on my own, with her kind words of support.

    Have you asked her if there is something wrong at school? Perhaps there is some anxiety or fear of something.

    • thordora March 18, 2009 at 9:27 am #

      I asked her, and asked her, and she said she didn’t want to go because her friend didn’t like playing the game she wanted to at recess. The game he WILL play when she’s at his house after school.

      She’s usually pretty easy to read, but she’s noticed that she can milk more sympathy from us if we THINK something is wrong.

      And yeah, she’s worked herself up into puking before. Not often, but a few times. The other day she said “When people are sick, they get to play video games all day, right?” And she hasn’t played her game in a few days so….

  3. Eden March 18, 2009 at 6:06 pm #

    Zoe went through a phase… maybe a year or two ago? … where she could make herself barf just by coughing the right way. If she didn’t get what she wanted, cough cough baaarf. I put a stop to that damn quick. But it amazed me that she could make herself vomit out of sheer will.

  4. Tracy March 19, 2009 at 5:04 am #

    I remember as a child being tempted to fake sick to see if I could stay home, but the policy was “if you’re too sick to go to school, you’re too sick to watch TV – or anything involving getting out of bed.” It was pretty effective too. I didn’t even know I could make myself puke until high school, but that’s an entirely different story.

    At the moment, though, I have no kids of my own attempting to get a day off school – just a fiance. He’ll cough and moan and suggest maybe he’s too sick to go anywhere, as though he need my permission to stay home.

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