Operation Bore My Son to Tears

is not going well.

Today is Henry's third day home sick from school. On Monday he insisted that he didn't feel well but all I could hear was "I want to play with my new birthday toys." He slipped that into his tirade regarding his various symptoms but I heard it, all right. I had him all figured out! So I dragged him there, insisted that he was fine despite his loud protestations, pried his little fingers off of me, and made a run for it. Two hours later his teacher called me. He had a fever. And was crying about ear pain when he coughed. Nice job, crappy mommy.

Once I got him home, of course he cheered right up, and spent the rest of the day playing with his brand new toys. There was nary a word about his supposed ear pain. Could a child elevate his internal body temperature, just out of an obsessive need for Legos? I suspected so.

The next day Henry was as bouncy and cheery as ever, but then I took his temperature, and damn it all, he still had a fever. A small one. Could I pump him full of Motrin and send him off? I considered it, Internet. My heart is a little smaller than a raisin. But in the end, I did not, which was a good thing, because two hours later he turned all gray and glassy-eyed and his temperature shot up to 115 or something. Okay, it was 104. Every time Henry gets sick his temperature goes up to 104. I find this somehow laudatory, because I never seem to get fevers anywhere near that high, and I remember being little and sick and miserable and wanting some impressive number that would elicit the sympathy of those around me. So here he is with 104, and I'm scared but also kind of want to high-five him. You are seriously sick, dude! Score!

Off we went to the doctor, and got some antibiotics. That part's not interesting. Actually none of this is. But this is all I have. So you just sit down and keep reading.

All of this brings us to today, Day 3 of sick leave. He's clearly better, but I wanted to play it safe, not bring him back to school only to have his teacher call to say he's still sick and p.s. you're a worse mom than we thought, and that's saying a lot. At the same time I hated the idea of keeping him at home, not just because he never stops talking ALTHOUGH THAT'S CERTAINLY PART OF IT, but because he's resisting school these days, and I don't want to reinforce that with another Super Day of School-Free Fun.

This newfound hatred of school is hard to comprehend in my child, who last year would weep like I had smothered his puppy if I told him he couldn't go to school. Who I'm sure told his teacher that he didn't want to go home because his cruel parents didn't love him like she could, and he should probably just live at the school, subsisting on graham crackers and apple juice and sleeping on the bean bag in the reading nook.

Now every morning includes at least fifteen minutes of weeping over the horrors of school, how the playground is stupid and all the kids are babies and the teachers are idiots. Because this year we can walk to his school, we get to enjoy a Bataan Death March each day, except worse. Because at least at the end of the Bataan Death march the survivors weren't forced to play in a stupid playground. And eat pretzels for snacktime.

So I'm trying to make this, our Last Sick Day, as un-fun as possible, but the kid's still enjoying himself, damn it. This morning he played with his new Play-Doh Fun Pak while I typed in the next room, first darkly announcing that I couldn't play with him because I had important work to do. (Read: I was emailing my friends.) "That's fine!" he sang, and proceeded to bounce in and out of the room, handing me intricate Play-Doh desserts and declaring that I deserved them because I'm the best mother there ever was.

"Soon," I growled, "we have to run errands," and he told me that errands are his favorite thing to do, as long as he can do them with me, because I'm his best friend. Wha? We went to the supermarket and he expressed fascination with every item on my list. Romano cheese, he informed me, smells fantastic. He shoved it against his nose and breathed in deep, beaming at me. He's either the best liar ever, or there's a hallucinogen mixed in with his antibiotics.

When we got home he asked to go to the playground, and inside I cackled with glee, my raisiny heart shrinking even further into the recesses of my chest cavity. "If you're home sick you can't go to the playground," I explained, and waited for the tears. Surely this would make school seem more palatable! Ho ho! "That's okay," he smiled. "I don't mind playing inside." And then he offered to help me unpack the groceries.

Next up: I introduce him to the vacuum. Even if he's still cheerful, hell, at least I have a clean floor.