Now he knows my toughest rule of all

It’s 12:30 p.m., I’m maneuvering a grocery cart at Krogers with my buddy, who refuses to sit in the cart, and my cell phone rings. The nurse from elementary school explains that my first grader has been stung by a bee. He’s OK, but wants to talk to me. As soon as he hears my voice; he decides he’s not OK, and must be picked up immediately.

Strange, I know, but I am the most eager one in the house to call it a sick day. I love having the kids home with me; so I try to exercise restraint whenever I can; but the nurse sided with my first grader, and said, “It’s no big deal. If it’s OK with you, I’ll just send him home for half a day.”

“Well, if you insist…”

I arrived in the nurse’s station to see a puffy red upper lip under those deer-like brown eyes, and a face that lit up to see his Mom and brother. We had candy corn, that we bought at Krogers, to help cheer him up.

I wish I could describe the look of revelation that crossed his face, as we made our way home to the somewhat empty house, and he walked up the brick steps to go in the back door. Suddenly, he realized his older brothers would be gone for another three hours, at the most. He could have the Wii all to himself.

“Can I play Lego Star Wars now on the Wii?”

“Well, my son, it’s time you learned my sick day rule.” A rule, I’ll interject here, that his older brothers have already learned; well.

“What’s that?”

“Well, as long as school as in session, and you’re not there, I have a ‘no-screens’ rule. No TV, no video games, and no computer games. You’re home to rest.”

“But, I’m not sick… I’m just really sore,” he protested.

I held firm, it’s my toughest rule, and the one I’m the most proud of. Soon, things settled down, and the house had that sweet quietness to it; the kind that lends itself to those blissful days when they play for hours in their own imaginary worlds they’ve created. It’s that twilight time of the afternoon, before the after-school crankiness gets in the way. For a day, it was heaven in the afternoon.

Boys played here today. I’m off to check how many sick days they’re allowed to take before the principal starts to get anxious.

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