KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I was snookered by the best yesterday. He’s short, as con artists go—only 3½ feet tall. He has dimples in each cheek, huge blue eyes you could get lost in, and lovely thick, curly blond hair.

He’s my 5-year-old son, Jared.

Over the last couple of weeks, everyone in my family has suffered to various degrees with a cold that Jared brought home from kindergarten. It’s lasted longer for him and for me than for anyone else in the house—me, because my body doesn’t ever clear phlegm well, and him, because he seems to be my physical clone, except for eye and hair color. So he ended up missing about 5 days of school because he was so congested. I wasn’t worried, because every child’s first year in public school is punctuated by lots of chest colds and stomach bugs.

Yesterday, he’d been back to school a whole week. When I woke him up for school, he was still a bit congested; he had a cough and a stuffy nose. He complained that he didn’t want to go to school because he didn’t feel well. I followed him as he sleepily stumbled out of the bedroom and toward breakfast. I asked him what he wanted to eat. He didn’t want anything, he said, because he felt too sick to eat and to go to school.

He seemed all right to me, so I spent some time snuggling and cajoling him, talking about all the fun things that would likely happen at school that day. His coughing began to increase. I began to get concerned after a few minutes because it didn’t stop. Finally, he coughed so much that he threw up some phlegm. That did it. I told him he’d be staying home because the school nurse wouldn’t want him staying at school when he was spitting up.

I called the school nurse’s office and left a message saying that Jared would miss school because he was ill. He snuggled with me on my bed for a while, and then he wanted to watch some cartoons in the living room. Okay, fine; I know that when I’m sick, I feel like lying around too.

The rest of the day, he didn’t cough much at all, though he still was congested. By the time my husband got home from work in the early evening, I was suspicious about how little time Jared’s upset stomach had lasted. Then I remembered that he has a very strong gag reflex, just like his mother.

“Jared, I think you’re well enough that you can go to school tomorrow. You don’t seem that sick.”

With an adorable abashed smile, the little con artist said, “Mommy, I fake-coughed until I made myself puke so I wouldn’t have to go to school.”

“But I thought you liked school, Jared. You like your teacher and you have friends in class. And you always have a lot of fun.”

“I know. I wanted to stay home with you, Mommy, and watch TV.”

* * *

It’s the middle of the next day now, and the school nurse has yet to call me to pick up a sick Jared from her office. I was conned by a pro yesterday. His face didn’t show even a hint that he was plotting. The kid’s damn good.


Imperatrix said...

Ooh, the little trickster! :-)

When I was in elementary school, I always wanted to stay home rather than go. So I'd do things like put soggy raisin bran in the toilet and show it to my mother when she came back from dropping my dad at the train station. "See, I threw up!"

Nope. She never bought it. *sigh*

Katharine said...

Soggy cereal—now, that's ingenious!

My almost-12-year-old, Neil, said, "Hey, I tried to trick you lots of times, Mom, but you never fell for it. How come?"

My reply: "Because just like your dad, you can't hide anything you're thinking or feeling. It all shows on your face."

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