Belle is home from school today. I sent her in yesterday, despite her protests that she was definitely going to be sick or faint at any moment, and when she got home she did seem actually unwell. She went to bed at 7.30pm, rosy-cheeked and whimpering, and was asleep before 9pm – practically unheard of for Belle, who normally likes to sit up in bed crafting small items out of coloured paper until at least ten o’clock.
This morning then, I was prepared for her to milk her feverish state as much as possible, and so when she came into my room at about half past seven, forcing out a cough and doing her best ‘look how sick I am’ face, I relented, and sent her back to bed.* Now though, seemingly having made a partial recovery, she is sat in bed quietly making friendship bracelets and reading her library books. She is being very quiet indeed, hoping I think that I will forget she is there and not make her go into school at lunchtime.
Canvassing opinion this morning on Twitter and Facebook, it seems that there are several rather distinct schools of thought. Some parents are happy for sick kids to snuggle up in front of the TV under a duvet when they’re off school. Others, like me, are more in the ‘cruel to be kind’ camp, believing that if a child is ill enough to stay home from school they should be in bed, being as bored as possible. Boyfriend, who is slightly more extreme in his views, would just send her in with a plastic bowl and a packet of Tunes, but I’m a little bit too soft for this – partly just because I’m lazy, and partly because I don’t want to be That Mum – the one who sends a child in with their leg falling off just so she can get some peace and quiet at home.
I’ve probably been influenced as well by own experiences as a child. My Mum, and I’m sure she would be the first to admit this, has never been a fan of tough love. At the first sign of a quivering lip she’d have you on the sofa watching Richard & Judy. Sneeze in her presence and you’d be whisked off to the doctors, have been told to drink plenty of fluids, and be in the chemist buying a sugar-free lollipop before you could get your hanky out. I was off school a lot as a child, and have fond memories of being sat under a duvet with a bowl of tomato soup sprinkled with grated cheese.
That’s the problem though isn’t it? I don’t especially want Belle to think fondly of her time off school, otherwise where is the incentive for her to get better? By making a day off as dull as possible, the hope is that her bout of ‘feeling sick’ will be over as quickly as possible. What do you reckon – is this mean or just practical for a working mum?
Before finishing this, I thought I should go up and check on her. In desperation she has finished her maths homework and is learning her spellings. “How are you feeling?” I ask her.
“Fine,” she says, without thinking, and quickly corrects herself. “Well not fine of course. I feel a bit better, just not 100%”
Sounds like she is on the mend to me. It’s amazing what a good dose of boredom can do.