One of the crazies is home “sick” today. As those of you with kids know, when one kid gets sick, the whole family tends to follow suit. As a family of six, we fight an almost constant battle against the germs in our house, especially during cold and flu season. I put sick in quotations today though, because this isn’t the average respiratory syncytial virus, though almost all of us have a cough due to cold. This is the i-just-want-to-stay-home-play-with-my-toys-and-get-some-undivided-attention virus and it is about to work its way through my home. Common name – the hooky virus.
Because I tried this myself many times with my mother when I was a kid, I can spot it a mile away. My mother worked, though, so my brand of hooky was simply trying to escape whatever assignment I hadn’t completed, to avoid yet another horrible public school lunch, or just to watch whatever good movie was on HBO. Also it rarely, if ever ,worked on her. She had this way of getting us moving without us realizing what she was doing. She would tell us to get up and get something to eat and if we still felt sick we could stay home. She knew that if we got up, went to the kitchen, made ourselves some breakfast, sat there and ate it, eventually we would be moving just through sheer force of habit. Pretty smart, huh?
So today when my 6-year-old said she wasn’t feeling well and gave me that sheepish nod when I asked if she was sick….I knew this was the hooky virus. I opened my mouth to respond with the same thing my mom would have told me, but at the last second, just as the words were about to escape my lips, I changed my mind and said, “Okay, you can stay home today.” As soon as it came out, I thought, who IS this person? That just isn’t me. I actually reached up to feel my own head to see if I was feverish. My husband peeked his head around the door and gave me a look of surprise. He would be the first to tell you that I don’t believe in hooky, a mental health day, a comp day, or anything of the sort. Sure, I joke about it with others and play along. And I wouldn’t say I’ve never taken a comp day because I don’t believe in absolutes. But the personal guilt over doing so is so great to me that 9 times out of 10 I drag myself into work when I could be shopping, or having quality time with my husband (aka hooky for nooky), or lying around and watching t.v. I only have one thing to say. Thanks mom, for instilling in me such a steadfast work ethic.
So why would I allow it today? Madison is the middle child, wedged between a 10-year-old older sister who has a lot to say and busy 4-year-old twins who don’t just need attention, they demand it. I, too, grew up a middle child. I have an older sister who kept my mom very busy with her shenanigans, and a little brother – the baby, the comic, the favorite. Not that I was ignored by my mom by any stretch, and neither is Madison. In fact, in any family with more than one child it is difficult to find time to give each one the attention they need and deserve. But I do identify more with Madison, as a fellow middle child, and work hard to give her the attention she needs. Today was a good day for that. A chance for me to shower her with attention and affection, if only for a couple of hours while the twins are in pre-k. She got breakfast in bed and now she is sitting by me, her head resting on my arm, watching cartoons with a smile on her face. I would say…..mission accomplished. I’ll deal with the potential harm I did to her moral/ethical development later.