Monday, January 30, 2012

'I'm making my face sick'

Matthew, the 5-year-old, had a 103-degree fever Saturday night and a 104-degree fever Sunday afternoon. We gave him Tylenol Sunday at around 5 pm, and we were shocked when his fever was gone at bedtime. He had transformed from a puddle of red-hot misery sprawled on the couch, to a feisty kid hitting and chasing his older brother.

Of course Matthew knew the stakes in this transformation. A kid with a fever stays home from school; a kid without a fever goes to school. Based on his bedtime demeanor, we expected him to get on the bus Monday morning.

So this is what I came downstairs to find Monday morning: Matthew tucked into a ball beneath the kitchen sink, his face pressed against the heater. He looked up at me.

"I'm making my face sick," he said.

Before coming downstairs, I had already gone into his bedroom and found his covers oddly tossed around the bed. Something hadn't appeared right.

"And, Daddy, I covered myself with my Thomas blanket, the big blue blanket and all the sheets, to make my face sick," he said.

Despite the charm, I wasn't buying it. He was fine. When the warm air stopped blowing from the heater, he joined us, ate breakfast and goofed around like normal.

He went upstairs to get dressed and stayed longer than normal. After 15 minutes, I went up to check on him. He was half-dressed, standing in a dark room and crying.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I don't know. I just feel like crying," he said. I went down the hall, got the thermometer and took his temperature – 99.9. Sick enough to stay home from school. He finished dressing and went downstairs, tears still running down his cheeks. Needless to say, the bus came and Matthew stayed at home.

And surprise, surprise, as I type this, he's in my office, talking incessantly, goofing around, playing with his younger brother, grabbing every gadget in here and behaving nothing like a sick child. Magically, the tears have stopped.

Tomorrow, I'm not falling for it. He can shove his face in a heater all he wants. Tomorrow he's going to school.

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