My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth.
I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and safe, and it brought me back to being little.
One of my greatest mom strengths, I think, comes from her. I do the same thing for my kids when they are sick. Cozy jammies, cuddling with the dogs, Pedialyte popsicles, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies together. Sleeping together in mom and dad’s bed in the middle of the day. Fireplace on. Lots of TV. Back scratches and 7 Up, and a quiet house—just us.
Unfortunately for my mom, one of the trade-offs of being such a great caretaker is people come to like that care. At least I did. So, I stayed home more often than most kids. I loved staying home. Did I fake sick a time or two? I most certainly did. Maybe my mom knew it all along, maybe she didn’t care. Maybe it wasn’t even really about being sick.
My middle son is so independent. He orders for me at restaurants. He talks to the doctor himself at his wellness check. At nine years old, he’s like a little man in a boy’s body. He is a good big brother to his sister. His older brother has autism, and for years, my middle was his voice. He takes responsibility seriously. He likes to feel grown up. But despite all his maturity, he is still a little boy. And as much as he tries to hide it, he still needs his mama. He likes to be mothered.
So, I think sometimes he fakes his sickness. Just on the days he really needs it . . . the mothering.
Kids faking sick get a bad view, in my opinion. What if this is their big-kid way of still needing that mothering? The kind they don’t ask for or won’t accept unless they are “sick.” Maybe it’s not about being sick, it’s about needing that parent love. That baby love they no longer know how to initiate. The cuddles they aren’t sure how to ask for.
For my middle, I think today was simply him needing his mom. Maybe he didn’t know how to say it, maybe he didn’t even know he needed it. But, I’m glad to oblige. I’m thankful actually.