Sick days are tolerable when you’re a kid. Yeah, you’d prefer not to be reaching for a Kleenex every 30 seconds or gagging because you swear that grape-flavored medicine you’re being forced to take is really paint thinner. But overall, it’s kind of like a minimum-security prison.
For me, at least when I was younger, I usually was confined to my bed or the living room sofa as soon as mom called me in absent. I remember being encouraged to eat soda crackers and drink warm Coca-Cola, or worse, 7-Up (I’d think I’d still rather consume the gross-tasting medicine). But I also got to watch “The Bozo Show” in its entirety. A case of the chicken pox in fifth grade earned me several days off from school, and in that time my grandmother got me turned on to “General Hospital.” I can’t off the top my head recall one thing I learned that year, but I can remember a few details about Luke and Laura’s wedding.
Cindy and I kept Nolan home last Friday after he started coughing and sniffling Thursday night before bedtime. A nasty bug knocked Cindy out cold for a few days two weekends ago and early last week. Some type of illness, be it influenza or just your garden variety cold, has typically forced Nolan to miss a week of school, sometimes more, every year since early childhood. By my best guess, the number of sick days he’s burned since December 2008 might be pushing triple digits by now. His mild cough didn’t necessarily put us on red alert, but we knew a potential issue when we saw one.
Sometimes having a nonverbal child makes figuring out how sick he is – or if he even is sick at all – much more difficult. We’ve kept Nolan home on days where we found out 10 minutes after calling him in absent and then watching him racing around the house the only thing that was ailing him was a case of the orneries. We’ve also sent him to school on days when we thought he’d be okay even though he was a little sluggish, only to get a call an hour later either from someone in the health office or his teacher telling me that Nolan has a slight fever, is not well enough to be in school, and I must come get him RIGHT NOW! No one at school has ever greeted me wearing a hazmat suit as I picked up Nolan, but I’ve gotten a very subtle “Why the hell did you send him today? Begone!” vibe that’s made me want to surrender Nolan to Child Protective Services and submit myself to 50 lashes for even reproducing in the first place.
So yeah, you can understand why I’m just a tad – all right, very – paranoid about putting Nolan on the bus if there’s even a remote possibility he’ll get sent home. He’s actually missed only a handful of days so far this year due to illness (excuse me while I reach over and tap the closest wood within reach a few times). We figured we’d keep him home, give him a three-day weekend, and send him back to school Monday good as new. We’d take this cold and, as Barney Fife used to say, nip it in the bud! Nolan would take advantage of his day off and rest.
For those of you who know us well, or have gotten to know us via this blog, I think you’re starting to realize there is no couch or television program that will keep my son down for more than 30 seconds.
Nolan decided to relieve himself by his bedroom window while I watched the end of “Leave It To Beaver.” I heard something hitting the floor after I’d given him his second bath of the morning and taken the first load of laundry down to the basement. It turned out he’d found the laser pointer we’d bought for the cats last Christmas, taken it apart, and dropped the batteries on the floor. He wanted to eat, eat, and eat some more. He pounded the keys on his digital keyboard as if he were the second coming of Ben Folds. That afternoon, he pulled out a pair of his socks, slipped on a pair of Crocs, opened the closest door, and reached for a coat, which is his way of telling me he wants out of the house (“Come, Jeeves – to the car!”). I started to feel like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca in the Death Star garbage compactor by 2 p.m. I may or may not have wept tears of joy seeing Cindy’s car pull in our driveway that evening.
(I’m used to Nolan running me ragged when he’s home, but the cats’ dissembled laser pointer really bothered me. I swear the thing runs on four batteries, and I only found three. I got down on the carpet a couple times Friday, looked under the couch and saw assorted cat toys, but no battery. I turned my head and saw a Christmas tree ornament under the television stand. I started to realize how tired I was and how much I wanted to fall asleep, and that perhaps a 7½-hour school day might have been just what the boy needed).
Seriously, I don’t regret keeping Nolan home, because he wasn’t 100 percent. There’s an unwritten rule that dads will break the rules when they’re left in charge. Nolan got two car rides, including one where we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and I bought him a strawberry coolatta. He got an ample amount of YouTube Kids time. He wanted lunch before 11 a.m., so he got to eat lunch before 11 a.m.
Still, there’s nothing like getting Nolan back into his routine, which we think he’s ready for. If all goes well, he’ll either be en route to school or already there by the time you read this. He still was coughing as of Sunday night, but hopefully it’s nothing that 12-hour Delsym can’t help. Overall, he had a lot of energy and was quite happy this past weekend.
I wish I could say the same. I already was starting to feel run down before spending 3½ hours outside Sunday digging out from the snowstorm that hit our area and working up quite a sweat on a chilly day. My throat is scratchy, I’m stuffy, and I’ve started coughing. Maybe Nolan didn’t take advantage of his sick day, but I’ll be more than happy to do so. Maybe I’ll even see if Luke and Laura are still married after nearly 40 years.