My daughter has a fever. A runny nose. A headache.
And she’s never been happier.
See, it finally happened. After suffering endless medical maladies with vague symptoms she couldn’t prove, my 6-year-old, at long last, is Officially Sick.
Sick and staying home from school today.
It might seem an odd thing to say, but no one deserves it more than her. She has worked so hard for this day, striving single-mindedly to hit this goal since school started way back at the end of August.
Every morning before school, we go through the same routine.
“Mama, do I look pale?” she asks.
“Nope, you look fine to me,” I reply.
“Can you take my temperature?” she asks.
“98.6,” I read off the thermometer.
“That sounds bad.”
“It’s exactly what it should be.”
“Are you sure? Maybe we should call the doctor.”
“My tongue feels weird. It feels pretty serious.”
When none of her efforts work and she’s forced (on the brink of death no less) to go to school, she turns to the only one who can help her now. The school nurse. A lovely woman whom I hope never to run into because my daughter manages to go to her office DAILY.
Thus far in her first grade career she has had:
Tummy troubles (it’s DIFFERENT, I’m informed).
No, WAIT. Double ear infection.
Almost broken arm.
A nearly fatal papercut.
Diabetes. Lots of it.
Almost broken leg.
Asthma. It can be deadly, you know.
Poked eye. But like, a really bad poke.
Allergy to carrots. Even if she’s not the one eating them, just someone in the world is.
And after watching a version of “A Christmas Carol,” she was certain she had come down with tuberculosis. Once I explained to her what tuberculosis was.
This is a child who was never so sad as when her brother got COVID last year and got to stay home for seven days. SEVEN. She never even got COVID. Which led to fun conversations such as “stop wishing for COVID” and “don’t you dare ask Santa for COVID.”
But now, OH! Finally! She is legitimately sick. With a respectable 102.4 fever. As she’s lounging on the couch daintily eating goldfish crackers and watching her seventeenth episode of “Bluey,” she proclaims this is the best day ever. Later, once she comes to her senses and out of her fever-induced fog, she amends it to “well, technically the holidays are my favorite day but today is my second favorite.”
When the medicine kicks in and I tell her she seems to be feeling better as she is bouncing (quite literally) on top of my head, suddenly a bout of terrible coughing engulfs her. The tuberculosis is back, she regretfully tells me.
“I might *cough* have to stay home *cough cough* another day,” she says, unable to hide her smile. “Maybe even *cough hack cough* all week. …can you make me some mac and cheese, mama? And get me my stuffie? And my blankie? Oh! And I need more tissues! A juice box would be awesome right now…*cough*”
Yes, ‘tis truly the most wonderful time of the year.
For some of us.