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wotd: scapegrace

scapegrace \SKAYP-grayss\, noun:
A reckless, unprincipled person; one who is wild and reckless; a rascal; a scoundrel.
We manage to get in the car for the drive to school. Me: purse, lunch, knitting that I never get to do on my lunch break, clipboard. Jack: backpack, homework, lunchbox, water bottle, cereal for extra breakfast. As we pull through the first light on the way to school, Jack's voice from the back seat: "Mommy? Um-uh, I ate two pancakes and that should be enough to fill me up, but I still feel hungry. Actually, my stomach hurts. It feels not like hungry but like throw-up."

I watch him in the rearview, looking out his window and idly munching Cookie Crisp. We pass the preschool on our way. Monday. Light attendance in my classroom. Two other teachers there. Mental calculations. At the second traffic light to his school I put on the blinker for the left hand turn, but instead I do a u-ey. I glance at Jack in the rearview. His mouth hangs open, his hand halfway there with a Cookie Crisp.

"What are we doing?" he says.

"Going home," I reply, passing the little plastic garbage can back to him. "Use this if you have to, OK?"

Back at that first light I call the preschool and tell them I've got a sick kid who only proclaimed his illness on the drive to school. We're going home, I tell them. I'm pretty sure I'll be there tomorrow.

Jack holds the can under his chin, still agog. "Are you going to call my school?" he asks as we pull into the garage.

"Yes," I say. "You feel sick, right?"

He nods.

"Sick enough to stay home from school?"

He falters.

"I know," I say. "I understand. Sometimes it's OK to just take a day off." That's not a belief I grew up with, and I think it's important to teach Jack that he can take the time to take care of himself. "Listen," I say. "Let's go in and try taking a nap, then we'll watch some TV. You won't play any video games today because you're sick." I attempt a wink.

In we go, unpacking what we'd so frantically packed just 15 minutes before. We take our books into the back bedroom where we can cuddle together on the bed with whatever animals will take a nap with us.

Jack fidgets. Sighs.

"What's the matter?" I ask.

"I feel guilty. I feel like I'm going to Hell because I didn't go to school today."

"Well, I don't," I say, relieved to know I'm raising no scapegrace of a son. "I know I'm not hurting anybody by staying home today. We had a really busy weekend and you had all that testing last week and you've only missed one day of school all year. We'll stay at home and relax today. There's no reason to feel bad about it."

We enjoy our day off, watching old Land of the Lost on DVD from the library, reading and snuggling, and eventually taking a 2 hour nap. Even when he has two bouts of diarrhea that validate his day off I can feel his conscience nagging at him all day long. I've got more teaching to do.

It's OK to take time for yourself.


I love love love this.

It brings back a memory of my being very, very sick in high school, trying to force myself to go to swim practice, but finally giving in. I felt so guilty that I burst into tears on the way home, and wouldn't tell Dad what was wrong with me. When I finally showed him blood running down the back of my throat, he took me straight to the doctor.

Unfortunately, I still feel pressure to keep on keeping on, unless I have blood running down the back of my throat.

Maybe someday, I'll learn your lessons.

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