Ah, the dreaded “my stomach hurts.” Monday morning, third week of school, everybody’s tired. It’s 6:30 a.m. I had already picked up my older son at school on Friday mid-day for the same reason. Stomach cramps. He rested all afternoon, then was fine over the weekend.
Let me first say, I am not one of those “You’re only sick if you’re vomiting or have a fever” moms. I get that my kids, whom I think I know pretty well by now, can be sick enough to stay home without puking or chills. I can tell by looking at their eyes, by the intensity of their protest, by just talking to them. Neither is the type of kid to fake (even subconsciously) sickness to get out of school. No Ferris Buellers here. They’ll rally after a shower, a little private time in the bathroom, or breakfast.
I also work from home, and very part-time. I’m a writer. My husband and I are fortunate that a sick kid doesn’t involve a round of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who misses work. I often have to cancel appointments, but I don’t answer to a paycheck.
“Is there anything going on at school that you’re worried about, like a test or another kid? I know 7th grade is a lot harder, especially in the beginning.”
“No, Mom, it’s not anything like that, my stomach really hurts.”
“Can you take a shower and see how you feel after that?”
“OK, I’ll try.” He’s a good sport that way.
The other one starts moaning. “My stomach hurts too.”
“Buddy, I think you’re OK, maybe just some breakfast.”
“No Mom, I feel really sick.”
My mind needs quiet. This was not my plan for today. I like things to go according to plan. Breathe. Jenny, what does your Mom radar say? Your MomDar. It says they’re sick. You’re not wrong about these things. You are lousy at remembering phone numbers, never file that pile of papers on your desk, and you’re not much of a cook, but if you have anything nailed, it’s your instinct.
But seriously? Both of them? No. Somebody throw up so I can make a decision. I had stuff to do today. OK, I take a walk around the house. Kind of a reboot. We have a single story ranch so I can do a lap and still hear the moaning.
The younger one crawls onto the couch with the coveted purple blanket. The soft, fleecy, most comfortable blanket we have. He means business. I go sit by him (careful not to touch any body parts that might have germs, hey, I’m not an idiot).
“Buddy, what’s going on?”
“It really hurts, Mom.”
“Like how, like throw-up hurt or cramps or what?”
“I don’t know just cramps. I don’t think I’m going to throw up but Mom, I don’t feel good.”
I look at him. He looks like crap. He’s pale and looks exhausted. This is a kid with so much energy he uses a small indoor exercise trampoline just to chill out. OK, he’s sick, I think. And his brother was sick on Friday and is still sick and now they both have it.
My husband is worried. “He’s already missed one day.”
“I know dear, but I’ll send him and get a call from the nurse before 10 a.m. If he’s sick he’s sick.”
To my husband’s credit, he lets me make the call on these issues. He rarely gets sick and unless he’s completely bedridden, never takes a sick day.
“It’s your call, dear.”
The older one gets out of the shower.
“Mom, it’s worse. I really feel sick.”
“OK boys, everybody back to bed.”
Within a half hour, my older son starts with symptoms. And it’s coming from both ends. He’s doubled over in pain.
Trust your MomDar. It’s radar, for Moms. We all have it. If we listen. If we are still. If we forget the “Oh, he’s missed a day already,” “Oh, so-and-so thinks he’s fine,” “Oh, he’ll have so much work to catch up on.” No. If, your kids are sick they’re sick. You know what’s best. You’re Mom.