May 3, 2012: A Ferris Bueller (aka Grant Lane) Day in 2008

 
Grant enjoying the zoo (a few years prior to our Ferris Bueller day off)

I just experienced a new first in parenting.  After years of getting phone calls informing me of sick children...babysitters worrying about fevers, daycare noticing a strong cough, pink eye alert from the grade school nurse, high school admin calling with a sick teenager in the office; instead the call was directly from my college son.  He had gone to the UNL medical office after getting considerably sick and was diagnosed with a severe case of mono.  So instead of trekking to the daycare or grade school, I drove to Lincoln to bring my oldest home for some needed rest and recuperation.

Reflecting on my many trips to retrieve sick kids spanning my nineteen years of parenthood, a memory of a particular sick call spurred a smile as I raced back home from Lincoln with my very sick and sleeping eldest in tow.  The “sick” child of past memory was Grant and the time frame was sometime around his 2nd grade year.  Grant had a long history of a weak stomach with a horrible gag reflex (i.e. he threw up all the time and typically not due to sickness, but being “grossed out”).  And he wasn't my only child with this issue.  Big Brother Ben set the stage with this strange family trait. Anything from a runny nose on another child to someone with ranch dressing dripping from the corner of their mouth would cause these boys to instantly puke.  And typically these episodes would occur with little or no warning.

A story that demonstrates an ordinary day with my two gagging children (usually not at the same time, but this time I had the unique experience of double the fun) was their reaction was my tator tot casserole experiment.  As a point of reference, my brothers and I loved tator tot casserole as children.  It was a delectable dish we could make on our own and was a staple of sorts in our normal menu.  So I decided to treat my kids with this gourmet pleasure around the time they spanned the ages of 3 - 10.  But instead of their anticipated delight, all three boys cried in disgust at this food offering begging me not to make them eat it.  I stuck to my guns and insisted that everyone at least give it a try.  The result was my 3 and 7 year old heaving on the kitchen table and subsequently (and obviously) upsetting our family dinner.  Zach just looked on; in reality a bit happy that the barf-fest happened before I forced him to take a bite.  Zach never had a weak stomach, but was quite gifted at quietly avoiding those foods he preferred not be adventurous on.  In hindsight I believe there was strategy on Zach’s part in encouraging the gag reaction and thus avoiding his card being called altogether.

As you can imagine, simply going to school and daycare provided many gross out opportunities for my weak stomach children…kids chewing food with their mouths open, Doritos licked off of fingers, open wounds, food thrown in the garage pails.  You get the picture.  I really had no idea there were so many ways that food and bodily fluids could exert themselves in numerable gross ways in the daily lives of children, but I quickly figured this out as did the school nurse.  She became exasperated from the number of times she needed to call me and discuss whether Ben and Grant were really sick or if they saw something that made them sick.  As a preventative strike, the school nurse asked that I write a letter for her file explaining my children's queasy stomachs and that their throwing up was not caused by illness.  She was worried that they would miss too much school if sent them home after every throwing up episode.  I completed agreed and appreciated her resourcefulness in avoiding the typical school protocol for a "sick" child.  I also wondered in her twenty years as school nurse if I was the only mother asked to write such a letter.  But I couldn’t bring myself to ask.

Once I wrote the requested letter, things did get considerably more quiet with fewer calls from the school nurse or the school office.  I tended to not even ask the boys on their status in this department as I was in denial that the problem even existed any more.  All changed one day when the school nurse was on vacation.  I got a phone call at work on a sunny May day.  “Mrs. Lane, this is the school office.  Grant is sick.  He threw up and we have him in the office.  Please come and pick him up.”  I glanced at the clock….11:30.  Grant’s designated lunch time was 11:15.  “Oh, have you talked to the school nurse?  There is a note in his file.  He throws up all the time.  I bet something got to him over lunch.”  There was a pause followed by “Mrs. Lane, Grant has thrown up.  The nurse is off today.  If a child throws up, he is clearly sick.  You need to pick him up and take him home.”  <silence>  Okay, how could I explain to the somber woman on the phone that my decision making tree wasn’t my choice to work vs. taking sick child home, but instead the uphill battle of convincing office staff of my family abnormality vs. pulling my non-sick child out of school?  So I thanked the nice lady for the phone call and choose the later.

Following my short drive to St. Wenceslaus and my surveying the visible health of my seven year old, I quickly surmised with my keen motherly instincts that my child was of perfect health.  I smiled to the nice lady at the front desk, signed the appropriate paper work, and walked out the Wenceslaus commune with Grant holding my hand.  Heading to the car with Grant at my side, I immediately asked the obvious, “Okay, what happened at lunch?”  Without missing a beat, Grant explained in exasperation, “Mom, Mackenzie Moody stuck mandarin oranges up her nose!!!  It was sooooo gross.”  Of course she did.  At that point I knew a conversation on the worthiness of puking over mandarin oranges in the nose was nil.  So I pondered my new decision making tree;  taking my non-sick child home and going through the motions of a stay-at-home sick day vs. Grant and Mom seizing the day.  Realistically we were now both free agents with no responsibilities, soooo....we decided to go to the zoo.  In my mind I was now empowered with home schooling my son for the day and I declared a field trip.  Yep, we went to the zoo and it was nothing short of spectacular.  Grant had on his school uniform and me, my business attire.  Hand in hand we enjoyed the perfect loveliness of our quiet afternoon free of interruptions and activities.  We ran the zoo that afternoon with no puking from the popcorn, snow cones, or the merry-go-round.  It was the best non-sick, sick day we ever had :)



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