Monday, September 21, 2009

I think that's the school calling

Having a sick kid is tough. 
When confronted by an ill child, the working parent (i.e. me) is faced with any number of issues, including:
• Should she stay home from school today, or does she feel sick because she ate really bad food at the fair yesterday, and actually said, "Dad, if it were legal to marry corndogs and onion burgers, I would do it." 
• How much do I spoil her if she does stay home? I don't want to positively reinforce this behavior by fawning over her, but I feel bad for her and she needs to rest and be comfortable.
• If I send her to school and she runs a fever, I look like a self-centered schmuck for exposing her classmates to her illness in that Petri dish known as an elementary school. 
• If I send her to school and she runs a fever, I look like a self-centered schmuck for sending her to school with a fever.
I'd been sitting at my desk at work for about an hour this morning when my cell phone lit up with that all-too-familiar caller ID. "Lauryn has a fever," the school secretary proclaimed. "She's sitting in the office and needs to go home." 
That's when the "pick-the-sick-kid-up-from-school" routine kicked in, as it always does upon receiving that notification. I rode the bus home, retrieved the car, scooped up a flushed-looking Lauryn out of the school office and we drove to Safeway for a couple of movies and some comfort food. I always feel a little self-conscious walking around a grocery store with a school-aged kid during school hours, and that's why I always keep a spare "Proud parent of a home-schooled honor student" T-shirt in the car. 
We completed the routine by driving home, getting her into her pajamas and pink bathrobe and popping in a movie while I whipped up some soup and saltines. 
At that point, the day becomes an opportunity to straighten up the house, fold some laundry and oh, who knows, possibly take a nap. And there's always something cute and cozy about a kid who's feeling a bit under the weather. I feel bad for her and I just want to nestle up next to her. 
Then, of course, we've got to make the decision in the morning about returning her to academia, or repeating the drill again. Parenting: never a dull moment.

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