All right y’all, time for some brutal, unrestrained honesty. Who out there has ever pretended to be sick (or pretended to be sicker than they really were) so they could hook school? Go on. Raise those hands high.
We’ve all done it. No point in even pretending like we haven’t. And, surprise surprise, our kids are doing it too.
The question is, what are we going to do about it?
Send him to school? Or let him stay home with the pillow pet? Decisions, decisions...
What Is Sick, Anyway?
My kids get sick. A lot. If it’s not asthma or allergy related it’s the flu, or a stomach bug, or some weird food allergy that I won’t find out about until six months later.
With as often as my kids are legitimately sick, you’d think my first instinct would be to keep them home. A lot. With their allergies, however, there are more mornings they wake up feeling icky than not. Half an hour later, they’re fine. So we had to come up with very strict criteria for what constituted “sick” in terms of staying home from school.
· Running a fever higher than 99.5 degrees Farenheit
· Throwing up
· Wheezing and/or having trouble breathing
· Complaining of a sore throat and swollen glands
· Coughing too hard to speak
· Sporting a new and/or spreading rash
· Suffering from a bout of diarrhea that has them in the bathroom more than twice in the hour it takes them to get ready for school
· Screaming in pain
· Too lethargic to dress themselves and get to the table
· Showing signs of pinkeye or some other fun communicable disease
…they get a free pass for the day.
If they’re ambiguously complaining they don’t feel good but don’t have signs of any of the above, we have a deal. They go to school. If, by lunchtime, they don’t think they can make it through the rest of the day, they know to go to the nurse and have her call home. I’ll come pick them up, no questions asked.
Don’t They Just Take the Freebie Jailbreak and Split?
I think I’ve had to pick a kid up at school at lunch exactly twice-and one of those was when Princess C fell asleep at the lunch table in the middle of the cafeteria. Usually, by the time they get to school the monstrous aches and pains and sniffles that made them miserable all morning disappear. By lunch, they’re so wrapped up in whatever they’re doing with their friends that coming home to mom sounds more like torture than a fun way to spend their afternoon.
Take the Fun Out of Staying Home
If you’re having trouble putting your foot down and sending them to school when they start complaining they don’t feel good, try taking the fun out of staying home.
You don’t have to crack the whip and make them do housework all day. If they really aren’t feeling good, that’s just not fair. I found, however, that by making my kids stay in bed all day instead of being allowed to get up and play when they start feeling “better”, and by restricting games and activities to books, movies and toys they can play with in bed (read: No computer or video games), they didn’t really want to stay home when they weren’t sick.
School’s just more fun.
Note: Feel free to restrict activities judiciously. My oldest son and the Wii were inseparable the week after his surgery. Ear infections are allowed to get up and play while they’re waiting on the doctor. Do what you feel is right for your kid.