Playing Hookey

9.24.07: A day just like the good old days


Julia started preschool two weeks ago and she's already learned so much. Like, for instance: how to play hookey.

The other morning, she announced: "Mama, my head hurts. I think I need to stay home from school today."

"Really, Juje?" I asked, genuinely concerned. She had taken a spill a couple days earlier and had a black and blue shiner across her left cheekbone to show for it. Just looking at the bruise on her face made my own head ache.

"Where does it hurt, baby?"

"It hurts when I hit my head against the couch like this," Julia said, bouncing her head against the overstuffed arm of the couch with a wicked grin on her face.

I was instantly flooded with memories of all the stunts my siblings and I used to pull to try to get out of school: The stomach-clutching lurch; The I-lost-my-voice-which-is-why-I-can-only-whisper-in-this-pathetic-sad-whimpering-sort-of-way sore throat; the listless moan, where all you could do was lie in bed and look wan; and the ever-popular thermometer-on-the-light-bulb hoodwink. Every now and then, my mom was gracious enough to look at that thermometer and gasp: "What?! A 120 degree fever? I guess you'd better stay home from school today!"

My mother was the greatest when it came to sick days—both real and imagined. She really poured on the pampering. I remember her fluffing up the pillows on my bed and carrying in grilled cheese and soup on a tray. Later, she'd set up a makeshift bed on the couch, where I'd drink ginger ale and doodle in my Fun Pad with invisible-ink markers while she flipped on the TV to watch the latest exploits of Erica Kane and Tad Martin as she ironed school uniforms.

Maybe I was a tiny bit nostalgic for the sick days of my youth when Julia had a sick day of her own last week. She had a cough that was starting to take on croup-like proportions, so Will and I decided to keep her out of school. Having Julia back at home with me and Charlie after our week-long separation felt just like the good old days, before she was such a grown up going-to-preschool girl, and I couldn't help but pour on the pampering myself. It was, after all, her first-ever sick day. But when our morning together somehow progressed to a round of wiggle-dancing around the kitchen to There's a Hippo in My Tub blasting from the CD-player, I realized that I really had no excuse not to send Julia to school the next day.

Julia loves school, but ever since her sick day, the siren song of a morning spent snuggling up on the couch with Curious George has been way too much to resist. And with a mere two weeks of preschool under her belt, I really have no excuse for allowing myself to be bamboozled by a self-induced sickness.

Still, I'm sure that someday, after Julia's been in school for a long, long time, a light bulb will go on over her head, and I'll find her holding the thermometer up to it. And when I see her 120 degree fever, and the oh-so-sick look on her face, I'll have no choice but to put my hand on her forehead and gasp: "Oh, my—you're simply burning up. I guess you'll have to stay home from school today!" And by mid-day, if there's a little dancing going on, and if we've maybe forgotten all about pretending to be sick, I know I won't forget to be grateful for a stolen day at home together again.

Join's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.

Read the next entry: 10.1.07: Once Upon a Time