Sick: She Wasn’t Faking It

We’re all sick.

Amie came down with a cold on Friday. She often has a bit of a runny/sneezy nose in the mornings, and Friday morning was no different, except that she didn’t want to go to school. She loves her preschool, but only gets “fully committed” when she is actually there, or after she has come home. Getting her ready and over there and especially over the threshold – especially when it’s me who’s doing the drop-off – is a less enthusiastic affair.

I asked her: “Are you feeling sick?” She said: “Yes”.  She had no fever, though I caught her shivering a bit – but then this was the first really chilly morning of the season. Was she “faking it”? I doubted she could. Can they, at her age (3.3)? I explained to her about lying, and about how important and fun school is, and how much it costs and Baba needs to work for paying for it, and that Mama also needs to work in the mornings. I explained what “feeling sick” means. Etc.  She still said she was sick.

By that moment in the conversation we had reached the school gate and the teacher  was inviting us in. Amie did the usual thing of clinging to me, but unusually she didn’t let herself be persuaded. I decided to bring her home.

On the way back home I was torn: was she faking it not to have to go to school? Or was she sick? Either way, I realized, I was sunk!

I remember faking it myself. I did that quite often because I didn’t have a happy school life for the most part.  I remember also the despair of my mom on those occasions. She sort of seemed to know, I thought, or at least I persuaded myself so I didn’t have to feel too guilty about it. My woes at school always seemed to legitimize my duplicity to myself, but still there was always my mom’s quiet sadness. Was it because she had work to do at home and I would be in the way, or because she knew the sad reasons for my faking it, or because in the end it meant she had to be unsure now whenever I claimed to be sick, and it made her judgment of the real situation so perilous…

Driving my child back home from school, I finally understood.

In a couple of hours it became clear she was really sick, so though I felt very sad for Amie, I also felt relieved.

It quickly deteriorated into something worse.  Yesterday I thought we might have to run to the ER because her breathing was very shallow and rapid, and the wheezing and rumbling in her chest was alarming. I watched her closely as she slept for most of the day. When awake she was so fully invested into getting enough air into her lungs that she didn’t speak all day, not a singly word except for “tissue”, until after a nap at 5 pm. Then she suddenly perked up with a feverish energy, and she couldn’t stop talking and singing for a while, in a high-pitched, trembling, short-of-breath voice that broke my heart. But she was breathing easier, and today, though she is still sick, and vomited up what little she finally ate, I know she has turned the page on this one.

Not so hubby, who lies moaning in bed. And I also have a runny nose. I’m fighting it, though, by frenetically vacuuming the house, cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry and turning over the compost while Amie is asleep. Which she is now, on the sofa next to me,  rumbling and snoring away while I blog.

How about you? How does it make you feel when you suspect your child is faking it? How do you remember it from your own childhood?

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the email, it is an interesting topic. Ethan is Amie’s age, and as of yet, he has not started lying. Aden is getting close to 5, and she will, but she’s bad at it. “Aden, did you do that?” “No, mom. It was Ethan.” And then she cracks up laughing because she just cannot do it. I remember the first moment I had to talk about dishonesty with her came this spring, (when she was about 4yrs 3mo) when she was absolutely enamoured with flowers. I would only give her the spent and nearly spent blooms to play with, as we talked about how important is was in early spring to leave the flowers for the bees. She started coming to me more and more “Look momma, that one’s knocked over, can I have it now?” “Okay.” I’d say, wondering how so many got knocked over when it occured to me she was doing it herself! I watched her and sure enough, she’d kick the one she wanted over and then headed back to me when she saw I was standing there looking at her. It was a great discussion about being dishonest and not telling the truth and what that means, how it affects a relationship etc…. I have not encountered that type of behavior in her since.

    As to the school aspect of your question. Yes, I remember faking illness to get out of going to school when I was 5. I hated it, I was bored and I didn’t see the point. I was also scared of being there, as a particularly shy child it demanded too much from me socially. I’m sure it was probably a necessity, to help get me out of my shell, so to speak, but I know I went through a period where I faked it to try to get out of it.

    As for us, I think it will be a non-issue as we homeschool, and do so loosely. I do as much child-led learning as possible, so there is no making a child do something they don’t want to do, so no faking to get out of it. The kids are always very energized about learning. And when we’re doing something specific that Aden starts getting bored with, we quit for the day. And so far it works. I never hear “no mom, I don’t want to do that” about anything school related.

    About the only thing that I am concerned with about it at this point is socialization. I’ve offered different opportunities to Aden, different classes she could take and while initially she expresses interest, when she found out I wouldn’t be a part of it she decided she did not want to go. I haven’t forced her to say, take a dance class or start 4H, but I cannot help but think back to my own shy 5 year old self and I know if I was giving the same choice I would have made the same decision as Aden. Was it good to be forced into it? Didi ti help break my shell so to speak? Should I be forcing Aden into it? So, those are the questions that an unschooling family have to tackle.

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