Last week, Thing Two’s after school program called Monday. Thing Two was running a fever of 100 and was tired, had spent the afternoon laying on the couch. I had the day off (President’s Day. Government employment has its pros and cons. So putting up with a boss who tends to channel Ike Turner is sometimes offset by the fact I don’t have to work holidays like National Watermelon Day), so I picked up Thing Two early.
He was cranky and when I took his temperature at home, it was 99 degrees, otherwise known as the Single Mother’s Official You’re Going to School Anyway Temperature. I contemplated calling in on Tuesday; after all, I had the time off accumulated. And Thing Two was on the cusp of being legitimately too sick for school. The borderline fever, the crankiness, the cough.
But the potential consequences were high. We had an important event on Thursday at work and my coworker Kick-Ass Receptionist was in Chicago and there wasn’t anyone else to cover our job. If I had called off, I would have felt the repercussions for weeks, and they would have sucked, and sucked mightily.
I wanted to stay home with Thing Two. Sick days are one of the few times I get to spend one-on-one time with the Things, and part of me looks forward to them, looks forward to the quiet days, the doling out of comfort and spoonfuls of cough syrup and the afternoons spent curled on the couch watching movies. But the truth is that I’ve been moderately harassed about staying home, and I worry about losing this job, about losing the benefits and pay I’ve lined up for myself. The things I need to keep to just maintain a safety net. So I did what any single mother in my situation would do. I resorted to bribery.
“If you go to school every day this week,” I told Thing Two, “I’ll buy you a Tamagotchi.” Thing Two lost his Tamagotchi about six weeks ago, and has been pining for one ever since, so the moment I said it, I knew I was golden. Thing Two agreed, and the next morning, I dosed him with children’s cold medicine and layered him in clothing.
We made it through the week, and Thing Two managed through. His fever never went over 99, and while he was a bit cranky, he adopted a stoicism born of meeting his goal and soldiered through with phrases like, “two more days!”
This is the place where I'd normally make some political statement, and I'd raise my fist in Single Mother Anger, but I'm sorta "feh" about it today. Okay, so I bribed my kid, spread germs all over, and all I can muster is some vague sense of "oh bite me, Life." Not even an exclamation point at the end of that.
Yes, I know. I know. If there’s ever an Internet award for the most boring mother, I’d win. Hands down.