You know who doesn’t seem sick?
The kid who suspects you don’t believe he’s sick.
You see, he might actually be legit sick. Sore throat and body aches- all that jazz. Yet, since he suspects you won’t believe him, he’s doubled over with some melodramatic moaning that conspicuously stops and starts when he feels someone is watching.
This morning, I felt my eyebrow incredulously raising up because my boy came out of his room appearing to desperately clutch his stomach- all to tell me that his throat hurt.
I took a deep breath.
I automatically prepared to tell him that he’d feel better when he got dressed.
Then I grabbed the thermometer.
I would like to say that Mary Poppins took over at that point, and I cuddled my boy, and I told him I knew he was sick, and that he would be well taken care of.
Eventually, I did do some of that- but, first, I ground my teeth.
For the fourth time in the first semester of school.
Like a crime drama, the number of absences he’d already had swam before my eyes like clues in front of a detective. This many excused. This many where the nurse had called us to pick him up. The time he was late because we decided to “risk it” and send him just a little sick.
My son has a strange immune system. He seems like a healthy, active, strong little boy, but during the school year, he’s usually got some sort of virus.
With so many bugs going around, other kids might have missed three days of school, so far.
My son hit seven today.
We recently took him, with yet another set of symptoms, to the doctor. She told us he appeared to have strong allergies.
It actually gave my husband and I some hope.
Allergies! Maybe a few of these “viruses” have actually just been strong allergies!
There are medicines and strategies for dealing with allergies- unlike a cold, where all doctors told us to just keep him resting, hydrated, and away from other kids until the contagious period calmed down.
With the help of allergy medicine, he could finally stop missing so much school!
Three days later, he woke up with a high fever.
The allergy diagnosis was a swing and a miss.
That was the previous time he was sick. After him, his sister caught his virus. Then, me.
I’m just getting over my cough today, when my son pops out of his room with yet another fever and a sore throat.
The poor kid. I feel so bad for him. The first couple of sick days after summer, we snapped to attention. We stepped up, smoothed his hair, put him in pajamas, and reminded him we would take care of him until he was all better.
After the first couple of times, though, the “I don’t feel good” announcements start to be met with a barely stifled you’ve-got-to-be-frikking-kidding-me sigh.
Due to school attendance policies, my sick kid has been scrutinized through my narrowed eyes.
I start to question how sick is too sick for school. I start to question whether or not my son is exaggerating, since he can probably tell that I’m not taking this well. My husband and I tensely try to figure out if our schedules need to be redone for yet another surprise doctor appointment.
It’s not fair to the kid with the fever in the middle of all this. They notice everything. They might even feel guilty, as if they were the cause of the tension.
It’s not fair at all.
My Mema used to tell me, “spoil them when they’re sick, fix them when they’re better.”
She’s right, and I want to carry it further.
Worried about school and absences? Fix it when he’s better.
Worried about getting behind due to hastily rearranged schedules? Fix it when he’s better.
First, I’m going to believe him when he tells me he’s sick. First, it’s pajamas and juice. First, it’s snuggles on the couch. First, it’s monitoring his symptoms with my finger on the doctor’s number.
I can’t plan ahead for a surprise virus.
I shouldn’t resist the virus when it appears. My fretting doesn’t make it leave. Not believing my son doesn’t make him well. I’d never send him to school to join his classmates with a fever (hello, contagions).
All I can do is care for him.
Everything else will just have to wait.
I’m sorry that this wasn’t my first thought this morning.