How the Cookie Crumbles

Life and scribbles on the far side of SIXTY-FIVE

Truth or Dare?

63 Comments


Your baby is sick. Without hint or warning, his or her temperature soars from normal to 103 degrees. Remember the panic, the sense of helplessness?

By the time your child is in grade school, he or she is able to describe what doesn’t feel right. You listen and a solution is thrashed out.

Kids are like sponges. They listen to everything around them and soon learn about symptoms: stuffiness, sore throat, tummy ache. Maybe they heard you tell your spouse how you pulled a fast one at work: you weren’t sick, but certainly not 100 percent either and left early. Little ears hear everything. Their antennae is in high gear even when you think they’re asleep. Some parents believe their children would never pull a fast one.

morgueFile free photos

morgueFile free photos

Here’s a story. The names have been skipped to protect the blameless or not-so-innocent.

Mom is sick all weekend. She spends two days in bed but on Monday morning makes an effort to go to work. One of her kids cries half an hour before school. She doesn’t feel well.

“No, I think you should go to school. You’ve no temperature.” Mom’s voice is stern.

Half an hour after Mom arrives at work and her child arrives at school, the dreaded phone call comes.

“Your child doesn’t feel well. Please arrange to pick her up.”

Enter grandparent. The child is made comfortable, allowed to watch TV but not allowed her iPad. Grandma is busy making pots of soup. The house smells marvelous.

“Is the soup ready yet? Can I have some?”

“Sure. Coming right up.”

The ill child snacks all afternoon, second helpings, lots of crackers and no upset stomach. Hmm…

The next morning, the child says she’s still not well but this isn’t an issue. Minus 40-degree temperatures, with wind chill factored in, have put the kybosh on school attendance. She eats better than usual and looks the picture of health.

~~~

How do you handle the slippery slope of separating truth from dare? Do you err on the side of caution? How much? How much would you as a grandparent butt in?

The problem is a kid can become hot / raise his or her temperature when agitated because she believes in what she’s selling. She made up her mind she wants to stay home.

Author: Let's CUT the Crap!

I'm getting a little LONG in the tooth and have things to say about---ouch---AGEing. I believe it's certainly a state of mind but sometimes it's nice to hear that you're NORMAL. I enjoy reading by the truckload. I'm a grandma but I don't feel OLD although I'm not so young anymore. My plan is to stick it out as long as I can on this lovely planet and only will leave it kicking and screaming!

63 thoughts on “Truth or Dare?

  1. So true. I remember the “You’ll be fine when you get there” then the guilt when you get the phone call, to the bloody “I knew it” when there perfectly fine at home. The joys of parenthood and that niggling “But what if….” It never gets easier, lol 🙂

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  2. My adult children love telling the stories of my responses to them being ‘sick’. Having a Mom who is a nurse takes all the fun out of trying to play hooky.

    When the phone call came from the school, or the plea came in the morning my standard line was…” Well if you are that sick then you will need to get lots of rest. That is the very best thing. So no TV, no computer. Are you feeling that sick?”

    If they really were they happily went to bed and when they were pulling my leg they gave the sheepish grin to the old nurse and got ready for school.

    Being Grandma is a trickier spot.

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  3. That’s a tough call, Tess. I have a cousin who wouldn’t let her kids watch TV, touch a video game, listen to music, or step outside of their room, to make certain their kids were so bored and miserable at home that they wouldn’t stay home unless they were truly suffering.
    It wasn’t a problem in our house, and if someone wasn’t deathly ill, I figured a mental health day couldn’t hurt and I loved the opportunity to pamper them for a day. It hardly ever happened, and usually there were other symptoms–headache, sore throat, etc.
    By the time they got to middle school, they didn’t want to miss school lest they get behind, so unless they were really wiped out, they sometimes did their homework while sucking on a popsicle. If they were really miserable–pneumonia, flu, chicken pox, wisdom teeth out, etc. I would rent special movies they’d been wanting to see and make them a nest on the couch so I could monitor their health and keep them company.
    If it seemed like it was happening a lot, then that would be different, and I would try and look at the school situation to see if there was anything else that might be making the kids uncomfortable–bullying, difficulty with the school work, I’ve heard that sometimes such problems can even be due to difficulty reading the chalkboard, and can be fixed with a pair of new glasses.

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    • In grade 4, they are playing hookey. Im going to push for the old rules to be put back in place. Bore them and they won’t want to stay home. Of course, I was to blame this time because I wanted to make soup so had to do so at my place.

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  4. Oh dear how these brings back memories. My little darling (the youngest) was always pulling this trick and I stupidly would get mum and Pop to pick her up if I was working. It’s not easy to try and decipher, though mine could lie without batting an eyelid from the time she was 6. Some of the times I could tell that she wasn’t faking it, normally a bubbly extrovert, she would be reserved and quiet. Sometimes she tried it on and I failed the test miserably, having mum and Pop pick her up, only to say “She doesn’t seem sick to us”.

    I think grandparents can be involved, but I don’t think it’s their call to decide if the little one is putting in on, just pick her up, monitor her behaviour and then let the mum and dad know how she was.

    The cry wolf works to a certain degree and I explained the cry wolf to mine – wish I had more answers 🙂 xx

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  5. When my kids were home ill, I made it a TV- and video-game-free day. All they could do was lie in their bed or on the couch and read or sleep (and get hugs from mom 🙂 ). If they were truly sick, that was pretty much all they felt like doing anyway. That way it wasn’t a ‘fun’ day that they might want to take advantage of in the future. Not sure if it worked or not, but I don’t believe they’ve ever faked being sick. And if they did, they sure didn’t do it two days in a row after being so bored. 😉

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  6. I was pretty lucky in that area. My kids and step kids HATED to miss school. We lived in the country so school was socialization and fun to them. Hmmm, that doesn’t help at all does it? 🙂

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  7. I am generally too available as a parent (a concept I actually learned about from a mentor mom), so In suit, I routinely give my kids a get out of school pass for free. Only my youngest has abused this, but after what happened with my girlfriend, I let this even slide. My girlfriend noticed her daughter just wasn’t improving over the last month, fever building, sore lymph nodes,etc I told her to see the doctor which led them to a leukemia diagnosis. I know! In light of her situation, I’m even more of a softy. Life is short (sometimes even if you’re a kid.) However, if I were the grandparent I think I would try to stay out of the truth-detecting business and just love ’em Tess. 💗

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    • Oh, oh. That’s the sticky wicket. You’re hard pressed to be a hard nose and then feel guilty. Guess all one can do is instill good practice and not let your kids HEAR about your getting one over on the boss and leaving early.

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  8. You have to believe them, don’t you, or you teach them you don’t trust. I always started with innocent until proven guilty–and I told them that, as I let them stay home. I’m with Naomi’s cousin–sick is sick. Stay in bed, sleep, not heavy foods, get better.

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    • I know. I know but sometimes you just know when you’re being led by the nose. I think we should bring back the rules of no TV, no games, no nothing but bed. The trouble is I had cooking I needed to do and had to do it at home so I guess I’m at fault.

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  9. I think she wanted grandma time. How sweet is that? I say let her have it now and then. Soon, she won’t want to spend time with any adult. Pesky teenagers!

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  10. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m well past all the stress of trying to figure out if my child is sick or just faking it. It never is an easy call when there’s no fever involved, and not easy to not feel guilty when forcing your child to go to school after complaining of not feeling well.

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  11. Tough one. Do you tell them they can trust you with any truth they have and if they tell you what do you then do? Or do you just let it be? And, what if it’s a chronic situation as opposed to a one shot situation? More questions than answers.

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    • To my way of thinking, my granddaughter’s mother took Friday off early but ended up being really sick Saturday and Sunday. She did not hide the fact of her ‘ruse’ from the kids. I warned my daughter she shouldn’t be this open in front of the kids because she wasn’t showing a good example. This grandchild was off on December 12th because someone pushed her and she did crack her head. I KNOW she knows how to manipulate. Anyway. Great subject by the responses I’ve received. 🙂

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  12. Very familiar dilemma!

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  13. When she was fourteen my sister went down with the longest recorded case of tonsillitis in medical history and stayed off school for eighteen months until they didn’t recognise her any more and told her not to bother going back!

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  14. I think the issue is having your kids trust you, their parent. They need to know that you will be there for them, and whatever the details, those are just individual rituals. Looking back, I wish I’d done things differently. I wish I’d taken off more time to be with ill children and let my sons know that they could count on me always. I was too afraid of losing my job but the job is nothing when it comes to your kids. As for kids faking or testing, I suspect they do less of that when they know they can trust you. But that’s just my opinion. We all have to make decisions for our own families.

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  15. I was the master of “I don’t feel good” when I didn’t feel like going to school. Drove my mother nuts, I’m sure.

    It’s true–if a kid wants to stay home, more often than not he or she will make it happen.

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  16. Tess – The question begs analysis on many fronts. I’m a firm believer that children are a product of their environment. I’ve never had to make a decision regarding the question you pose as Tom’s grandchildren (from a previous marriage) live half-way across the country.
    What I can address is that today when we were shopping in a good size and what some would consider an up-scale mall (yet all stores have street level store front entries) Tom and I watched as a mother got out of her car, unbuckled her son (maybe 4 from his car seat) and proceeded to pull down his jeans, etc. so he could urinate on a stone planter. Tom and I were both disgusted. It’s no wonder children grow up to have no respect for property belong to other people. The mother was only 2 doors away from a Starbucks where they have clean public restrooms (and you don’t have to buy anything). However, this mother ‘appeared’ as if she could buy most anything she wanted (except proper bathroom facilities for her young son).

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    • The woman you talk about here is the most disgusting mom I have ever heard of. I’ve never heard of anything so horrible. Feels like she was either looking for attention or trying to embarrass her son. No, I’m not analyzing–I can’t begin to understand how someone can do what she did.

      Thank you for contributing to the conversation. You can never tell what will come out of all the comments. That’s why I love blogging. 😛

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  17. Oh Tess, can I ever relate to this! I was a full time mum until my daughter, my youngest, went to 5th grade when I returned to the work force as a part time accounting assistant at a dental practice. How I kept that job I will never know. It seemed that every other day just after I dropped her off at school and I would be settling into the day I would get the dreaded call – ‘can you come and pick up your daughter, she has a fever and feels sick’. But she seemed fine when I took her in!!! So it went. Of course, in her case, with having undiagnosed Asperger’s I have no doubt that she was finding the stress of school etc. very hard to handle and it really did seem to cause her physical symptoms. I saw with my own eyes her raised temperature. A day at home did her wonders. Your story here could be mine, except I’m not a grandparent…but I live in hope 😉

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    • I look at my grandchildren and marvel they are healthy but always worry when they aren’t well. Anything can come up that’s not evident. My daughter seem so much more devil-may-care. Her generation ‘expect’ nothing will ever affect them. I warn her to be more humble. 😛

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  18. I have yet to be a grandma but I am a grand aunt. If I was babysitting one of my grand nephews or nieces and thought they were pulling a fast one, I would probably talk to the child about it AND talk to the parent when he or she got home. This would be a one-time deal and I would leave it up to the parents after that.

    True, the parents may not like me anymore, but I believe we should all strive to be better than what we are and that includes sizing down on ‘fast ones’.

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    • When I mention anything negative because I feel it in my gut, doesn’t go down well. The child is perfect and I don’t know what I’m talking about. I butt out as much as I can because we all live in the same house. 😛

      Thank you for commenting and contributing to this discussion.

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  19. It’s always a difficult one isn’t it! Sincy my kids hit secondary school (which is from age 11 upwards here), whenever they say they aren’t feeling well before school I tell them that they are old enough now to know for themselves whether they are well enough to go to school or not, so I tell them it’s their decision. Passing the responsibility back to them really seems to work well – I knew it was a risk the first time I did it, which was with my daughter, but when I saw her take the responsibility seriously, and decide to go to school, I knew it was a winner! Prior to that, I must admit to a few sneaky tricks if I suspected they weren’t really ill, like saying that they would have to telephone their teacher themselves to tell them the symptoms and let the teacher decide if they could stay off! Obviously I wouldn’t do anything like that if I could tell they were genuinely ill.

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  20. It’s funny, I was quite good at mitching school, but now I’m nearly adult I have a strong work ethic and rarely throw a sicky!

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    • Funny how we grow to appreciate what we work for or towards as we mature and understand the value of what we’re striving for. I can be sicker than a dog but if I’m signed up for a class or the weather is arctic and the roads a sheet of ice, I’ll brave everything to attend.
      I’ll keep an eye on the granddaughter and plan to keep notes because I know my memory plays tricks nowadays. 😀

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  21. This brought some memories to mind I’ll tell ya! 😉 Although I loved school big time, I did enjoy the occasional day at home when I wasn’t really ALL that sick. We had a lot of good stories to make that happen and my Mom’s usual answer was something like: Oh, you’ll feel a lot better when you get out in the fresh air! or words to that effect.

    It is important to differentiate though, that’s for sure. Great post Tess!

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  22. This is a tough one. This is not something I ever did as I loved school, my parents worked and there were no grandparents to assist. I think my youngest did this a couple of times with his grandparents, but fortunately didn’t make a habit of it. I’d probably not say anything unless it became a trend.

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  23. When called to get up for school, I was the kid who was out the door first. Always loved going to school. Then as a Mom, loved having the kids home. I would sit and ponder a spell and see if repeated!

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    • She’s back in school now. I do think Mom’s complaints have rubbed off on her. I used to love school too and as far as we know, so does the granddaughter.

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation, Sheila. 😉

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  24. That is really a tough one, Tess. With my two school going children I usually give them the benefit of the doubt, but if they look and seem much better on day two, then its off to school, if not, its straight to the doc. 🙂

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  25. Ha, I may have tried this once or twice back in the day. However, I didn’t have grandparents to take care of me. It’s a tough call. You don’t want to assume they’re fibbing, but hard to believe as well.

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  26. My rule was always a child stays home from school if they have a fever. I found out this was an inadequate rule when my son’s math teacher and cross-country coach told me, “A child cannot run every day for a year and not improve their time. Something is wrong. You need to take him to a doctor.” Sure enough, he had ulcerative colitis, which had been causing a low-grade fever every couple of weeks and I hadn’t picked up on it.

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    • Oh my! That is one smart teacher your son had.
      I agree if there is a fever, it’s time to see the doctor. Thanks so much for your comment. I learn every day from others I meet here in the blogosphere. 😀 What the heck did we do before the internet?

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  27. Hey, we’ve all swung the lead in our time, haven’t we? 🙂

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