My son, Silas, is always sick — you wouldn't know this to look at him though.
My son, Silas, is always sick. You wouldn't know this to look at him, though. If you were to come over to our house you'd see him screaming and laughing and refusing to eat his dinner.
Silas must be very brave to be able to laugh and play through his illness. In fact, I've rarely seen a symptom of his illness. Be he does seem to have an intense desire several times a month to call home sick from the elementary school office.
Since I always work the night shift, Silas is extremely considerate of my sleep time during the day. He'll tell the office secretary, "My mom worked last night, can you call my grandpa to pick me up?" Not only is Silas considerate of my sleep, but extremely smart: He's obviously figured out that his grandpa is about a million times nicer than I am.
Being a big boring grown-up, I am sure that nothing cures illness better than some good sleep. When Silas tells me he doesn't feel good, the first thing out of my mouth is usually, "Oh! We should probably take a nap then!" I actually get kind of excited about being sick myself — it finally gives me the chance to sleep 18 hours a day and not feel guilty about it. Silas' naps are much shorter. He usually closes his eyes just long enough to make sure his mother has passed out asleep and then sneaks out of bed to play Legos and watch "iCarly." Grandpa, on the other hand, doesn't require sick people to take naps.
Silas' other reason for usually calling his grandpa to pick him up from school is that Grandpa doesn't immediately grill Silas on his symptoms. Grandpa will say, "Oh, he said he didn't feel good, and he looked a little flushed," and leave it at that.
I have two reasons for grilling Silas on the symptoms of his illness. First, I'm a nurse and intensely curious about disease and want to know in advance what the chances will be of a 2 a.m. emergency room visit. Secondly, I have grown to be suspicious of these "stomach aches" and "headaches." I hate to call my child a liar, but I do think there are values more important to him than medical truthfulness, and one of the things he holds most valuable is his time away from school.
I'm sure plenty of people will disagree with this (including his teacher), but what does it really matter? Silas is having a bit of a tough time socially at school. If he feels like he needs a few extra days off every month, what's the big deal? If taking days off was such a terrible thing then they wouldn't have so many three- and four-day weekends to start with. Of course, at the next teacher/parent conferences I will adamantly deny ever saying that. Besides, I seem to remember having quite a few "stomach aches" and "headaches" myself while I was in school, and I turned out perfectly fine. The only lingering effect is that now, as an adult, I have chronically enlarged tonsils which require removing. I am sure my tonsillitis is karma for all the sore throats I would suddenly develop to get out of Spanish during high school.
When Silas is truly ill, he looks up at me from his bed, looking just about as sweet as can be, and says, "I'm lucky to have a nurse for a mom." But what Silas is truly lucky to have is a grandpa as nice as his for those days when he's simply sick of school.
Zoe Abel was a little late submitting this column because of a sore throat that required her to take long naps and get caught up on several seasons' worth of "Dr. Phil." You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org