Looking forward to a sick day
Published February 1, 2006
I got one of those calls the other day.
You know, the “school-nurse-with-the-chipper-voice” call.
“I’m calling about Julia,” she said. “She has a fever and needs to go home.”
So Julia came home. It was just a low-grade fever, so it wasn’t anything life-threatening. I gave her some Tylenol and orange juice (the proper Mom thing to do) and she settled in at the computer to play games.
It got me thinking about the glory of staying home sick from school when I was a kid.
As long as I wasn’t too sick, I rather enjoyed a day off once in a while.
But sick days were not easy to come by. My mother was a teacher and didn’t put up with much whining about wanting to stay home.
But my brother and I had two potential trump cards. If we could throw up, or somehow convince my mom that we had pink eye, we had a free ticket to a day of lying around and watching TV.
There were some self-imposed ground rules. We had to remember to not have too much fun. And we had to produce a cough within Mom’s earshot every once in a while.
If I actually did throw up, my mom made me drink 7-Up. I’m not sure why. All I know is that to this day, I can’t stand 7-Up. It makes me feel like I’ve just thrown up.
7-Up notwithstanding, I kinda miss those days. For moms, convalescing in peace is a thing of the past. Fever? Aches? Major organs rupturing? It doesn’t matter. Moms can’t take days off.
Except for when we give birth. When I was in the hospital after having each of my children, I was in no hurry to leave. Why? Because I had a room all to myself. That had a bed in it. With really cool controls. And a TV and a remote. Not to mention the nurses who brought me food when I was hungry and took my baby away when I wanted to sleep. Those same nurses had access to morphine, Vicodin, and other yummy hallucinogens.
My only job was pretty much to stay in bed. Believe me, I’ve had worse days. Julia knows how to enjoy a day off, too. She spent her sick day eating Hello Kitty Pop-Tarts and playing “Zoo Tycoon 2,” a game where you get to build and manage your own zoo. (She’s particularly fond of letting the tigers out of their cage so they can chase down terrified zoo visitors. Then this alert flashes across the screen: “ZOO GUEST 32 HAS JUST BEEN EATEN.”)
That night, we gave Julia more Tylenol, tucked her into bed and let her fall asleep to an Enya CD. I have a feeling she’s had worse days, too.
I have big plans for when both our children have grown up. I’m going to drop the youngest one off at a college campus somewhere, come home, get in bed with a bowl of chicken soup and watch trashy talk shows for days. Whether I’m sick or not.
I will have earned it by then.