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Sent Home From School

Big Girl went to school today. No real fever for 24 hours. That’s after spending yesterday at home with me, having fun and getting pampered. (Not to mention the fact that she had a whole three hours alone with me when her sister was at school — a rare and wonderful treat since Little Girl is always here.)

She started telling me she didn’t want to go to school about 15 minutes before the bus came. She said maybe she had a fever. And maybe her head still hurt. And her belly. Nope, I told her. You are well enough to go to school. Besides, if you don’t, you can’t go to the big book fair event that I came up with and co-chaired. (Thanks, Scholastic book fair site, for the inspiration!) She hemmed and hawed, finally missing the bus because she walked at a snail’s pace to the corner. Grrr.

Holding it together I drove her to school, bundling the little one into her car seat. On the one mile drive to school Little Girl, excited to see my mother today, made a point of telling Big Girl just how excited she was that Grandma was coming over. “I’m gonna have so much FUN with Grandma, sister! All alone.” (WTF?!? When did my two-year-old learn how to turn screws???)

At that point Big Girl, noticeably upset, told me she really did not want to go to school. Still, I dropped her off, and told her to hurry to class. Oh, no! “I forgot my glasses, Mommy! Let’s go home and get them.” No way, kid, I thought. I’d drop them later, I told her. I didn’t get the chance.

Soon after, I got a call from the school nurse. Big Girl was in her office complaining of a stomach ache, she told me. I calmly explained that Big Girl and I had a great day together on Monday, and that she was probably missing being home. The nurse and I agreed that I should talk to her. Once on the phone I told Big Girl to go back to class. That if I picked her up she would not be able to go to the book fair event that evening that her grandma was supposed to take her to. And with that warning, she went back to class.

Several hours later I got another call. Big Girl was sitting in the nurse’s office again. This time she was crying. Anyone who has ever seen my kid cry knows it is just heartbreaking. The nurse, who had already told me the first time we spoke that she knew Big Girl was not a “complainer” because she had only seen her twice over the year for actual cuts, wasn’t taking no for an answer this time. Even though there was only about an hour and 45 minutes left until dismissal. I had to pick her up. My mom, who was here watching the little one, went to get her.

When she got home, I sent her up to her room to put on pajamas and get ready for bed. I went in once she was ready reminding her that she was in for the night. More crying followed. I felt very guilty for making her stay home from the book fair with her grandma, but my husband was pretty adamant: “NO WAY does she get to go,” he wrote to me via email. “She doesn’t get to feign sick to go home and then get rewarded. That is perfect actually — let’s nip this fake illness stuff in the bud.” Uggg.

I offered a few alternative punishments. Maybe we could strip her of her earring points I said. (We have decided that she needs to earn 75 points for pierced ears — one point per day that she doesn’t scream while we’re doing her hair). But my husband wasn’t budging. You know how some days one person gets his way in a relationship and some days someone else does? Well, this was one of his days.

Tonight, as I left to go work the event — which ROCKED, I may add — I felt really, really guilty. Books are my girl’s favorite thing. I think she would rather read than eat a hot fudge sundae or go to Disney World. Still, my husband is right. As someone who mastered the art of conning the school nurse and my mother by the time I was eight, I know she needs to see that we will continue to be consistent in our punishments, especially when school is involved.

She’s going back to school tomorrow. I have a feeling she’s going to stay put. I also think that she’ll think twice before coming home from school unless she’s really really sick.

Okay, off to count the books I bought her. Just because she couldn’t attend doesn’t mean she can’t enjoy the fair — especially since I suck and forgot to give her any money when it was her turn to go with her class. I was up working until 4:45 a.m. the night before. Yes, Mommy guilt is terrible!

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