I’m writing at home today while my 9-year-old son sits on the sofa in his pajamas — wiping his nose and drawing his own comic books.
That nose of his has been draining faster than Charybdis for the past 40 hours. I figure my good deed for the month is keeping him home today so he doesn’t expel viral-laden snot all over his school.
When I consulted him as to what this week’s column should be about, he thought it’d be fun to share how parents can tell if their kid is pretending to be sick. Not that he’s ever done that, he claims. But I agree that this might be important information for him to tell the parents of Western North Carolina. Especially his mom. Although I left that last bit out.
Here are my boy’s ways to tell if your kid’s feigning illness:
1. If he slept well the previous night, he’s probably not that sick. Sick people wake up a lot.
2. If the kid says he’s sick on the day after he’s gotten a new video game or movie, he’s probably faking. My boy says parents should be like his parents and say, “If you stay home, you can’t have any screen time during school hours.” (Holy cow, I can’t believe my son just said that).
3. If, after the parents say, “You can stay home,” the kid goes outside and does something active, he’s probably not sick.
4. If mom or dad leaves the kid by himself, then calls to check on him, and he doesn’t answer the phone, it’s because he’s outside playing instead of lying in bed. Unless he’s smart enough to carry the cordless or a cell phone with him. That is, if he has a cell phone, which some parents won’t allow (I wonder who he’s referring to?).
5. If there’s a quiz or test at school or it’s a day that the P.E. curriculum includes lots of pushups, and the kid says he’s sick, he’s probably faking.
6. Last bit of 9-year-old advice? If you do catch your kid pretending to be sick, don’t get mad. He might really need a break from school or a day off.
That’s all he could come up with, because as soon as the clock stuck 2:30 p.m. (the time his school lets out) he started feeling better and went to play outside.
Which is OK. This is my kid who doesn’t care much for school — who feels that, as he says, it’s a waste of time — but who still needs it and will continue to attend because I don’t have the patience to home school him. His older sister, on the other hand, loves school and all things academic. Strange that they were created by the same two people.
But in my son’s case, a day off now and again, particularly when he might be a bit contagious, is a necessity. It’s really a kid version of a mental health day. In addition to being my good deed. My hope is that he’ll be a bit more focused and enthusiastic about schooling tomorrow. And that his nose will be less drippy.
So he gets time to recover — both physically and mentally. At the same time, I’m pretty sure that I’m never, ever going to let him watch the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. That would give him way too many new ideas.