Maddy is home from school sick today with a sore throat and cough. I have to admit (a little guilty confession) that I really enjoy it when my kids are home sick (as long as it's not something worrisome, of course). A sliver of old fashioned Florence Nightingale-ness activates in me. I like to check their foreheads and set up a little stool with good drinks and crackers next to the couch. I give them a little extra attention and the pace of the day turns into something slow and cozy.
Even now that they're older, I still want to hover. We read or watch a movie together. Maybe I'll take a little nap along with the patient, in sickness solidarity, eager to toss the to-do list for the day. I happily cancel whatever's going on that day and settle in for some nurturing.
That's the first day.
On the second day, I'm perfectly willing to turn over the t.v. remote to the little patient and get some things done. The weak voice calling "Mom...can I have some more sprite?" from the other room may or may not be catered to. My Florence nurses' cap slips a little. Or a lot. There's a law of diminishing care that kicks in...it discourages faking sickness longer and sets everyone up for a seamless return to normal life.
Heaven help the child who stays home on the third day and beyond (because I'm much less likely to at that point). I become more drill sargeant than Florence and start to say things like "turn that t.v. off and find out your homework that you've missed" or "pick up those socks off of the floor please" or "get on your clothes...you're coming with me to the grocery store. We need food!" I start to resent the germy mess we're in and long for the freedom of errands and schedules. (And inevitably, the NEXT child will come home sick that day and never see Florence Nightingale mom for the whole sick cycle.)
Today we're on day two. I'm enthusiastically encouraging a return to school tomorrow and so far no one else is complaining of a sore throat. Everyone knock on wood for me.
~picture above of a Sam sick day, 2006