My family has been fighting viruses since early January, with everyone taking turns being sick. Everyone, that is, except for my oldest. He had a 2-day sickness and then was back on his feet.
At first he was happy about being so healthy, but then it started to bug him. He’d come home from school and find his little brother lying on the couch watching TV, or playing with the trains, or even just reading a book, and he’d be instantly jealous.
Yesterday, the tables turned. I received a call from the school that my 8-year old was complaining of a headache. I picked him up, made sure he wasn’t faking, and brought him home.
All the way home, he talked about the things we could do together: stories, trains, movies, books, pretty much everything. I explained that I had to work, and that staying home sick meant resting quietly.
At home, he immediately started building a fort. “It’s for telling stories,” he said. “We sit inside and tell stories.”
“I have to work,” I said. “I’m really sorry.”
Feeling like a world-class heel, I went upstairs to my office. Three minutes later he was upstairs with a question about dinosaurs. I answered and then explained that I had to work. “I’m sorry, but being home sick just isn’t any fun.”
After a few more visits, my rejections became firmer, more along the lines of “if you come up here again, you’re going to have to go to bed.”
Shortly after that I heard shouting, and he ran up the stairs. “Daddy, daddy,” he shouted. “The dogs got out!”
“The dogs! They got out of the fence!”
I ran downstairs. We have two big black labs. They are as cuddly and friendly as you could imagine, but also a little intimidating. I can’t let them run loose around the neighborhood. I tracked them down and brought them back inside.
“How’d they escape?” I asked my son.
“I thought like they looked like they needed to go out, and then they just ran.” He waved his hands. “It just happened.”
“Okay,” I said, crawling into the story fort. “Let’s hear a story.”
Yes, I know that I shouldn’t have rewarded him, but let’s face it: there was no way I was going to be getting any work done anyway.