Christina M. Currie
Christina M. Currie's Touch of Spice column appears Fridays in the Craig Daily Press. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
It starts with a little moan. Glassy eyes. The next thing you know, the thermometer reads 102.7 and your whole day has changed.
You reschedule meetings. You consider all your options for child care.
You realize that this is it, you're in for the long haul.
There are few things that take precedence when your child is sick.
Of course, you have no choice.
Schools increasingly are firm in their policy to prevent the spread of germs by reiterating that sick children belong at home.
Ironically, I was contemplating just how sick that was when I came across a sign 7-year-old Nikki had brought home from school.
"When I get sick,
It's pretty icky.
My lips are dry,
My nose is drippy.
I sip and sip,
and eat a bit,
But even if I rest all day,
Nikki can't come in and play."
Oh yeah. We were staying home.
The repercussions are huge. Work is delayed, meetings you could barely get people to carve time for in the first place are canceled.
But it's your baby, and when you look into those big sad eyes, nothing else exists but you, her and pain that you'd do anything to relieve.
And you remember how loved you felt when you were a child, weary and sick, and someone was a word away with medicine, cool compresses and comfort.
That's a memory I'm determined to give my children.
At least one of them.
Eight-year-old Katie was not happy to learn that her sister got to miss school, not one, but two days.
"It's not fair! I wish I was Nikki."
Really? You're jealous of the girl lying there with a cold wash cloth on her forehead, eyes blurred, sweating and achy?
There is no sacrifice too big if it means missing a day of school to watch cartoons in between doses of hot soup and Motrin.
So on the morning of Day 2, I started hearing a few surreptitious coughs from Katie.
I was wondering what method she'd choose.
When that didn't elicit a response, her coughs got louder, rougher and very nearly in my face.
I told her to get a drink of water and a cough drop.
Her consternation was clear and her next steps were hesitant. She wasn't sure which symptom she needed to manifest to earn a get out of school free card.
She chose the subtle route. A moan here. A loud sigh there.
I decided to throw her a bone.
"Katie, what's wrong?"
"I think I'm sick," she said wearily.
Clever, clever girl.
Not, "I'm sick," which would have been an outright lie. The "I think" exempted her.
She didn't expect to need the exemption, though. I mean, her sister didn't even have to say "I'm sick" to get out of school.
I could tell, Katie was pretty pleased with herself.
Until I brought out the polygraph machine. Every home has one. Its uses are limited, but it is 100 percent accurate.
Katie marched off to school with a healthy pink throat, some zinc lozenges in her pocket and a perfect 98.6 temperature.
Ah, but she found a way to thwart the system.
An hour after I arrived at work, deep into catching up from two missed days, I got a call.
It was the school nurse and Katie was complaining of an upset stomach.
That afternoon, she was in my office watching a movie in the corner and munching on McDonald's.
She had won.