An unexpected side effect of all these snow days: the terrible case of idontwannagotoschoolitis that my older son came down with on Tuesday.


    One unexpected side effect of all these snow days was the terrible case of idontwannagotoschoolitis that Maxon came down with on Tuesday.

    Idontwannagotoschoolitis has a variety of symptoms depending on the child, but the most common is the ambiguous and unsubstantiatable "my stomach hurts."

    School was set to open two hours late, and I agreed to drive about 17 children to school (O.K., it was only six). The extra kids were being dropped off by two different moms. Maxon came downstairs with the first stomach complaint just before they arrived. His stomach hurt. He almost threw up. He felt "shuddery." I looked him over, felt his forehead and took his temperature. I was aware of a nasty stomach bug going around, so I had him sit with me on the sofa, where he experienced a few painful cramps. He worried he would throw up at school.

    Then one of his friends arrived. Between his arrival and the time of our departure, when my other girlfriend dropped off wave two, there were no cramping incidents. I gave him a plastic baggie as a barf bag, just in case. In the car on the way to school he grasped my hand and crunched up in his seat a few times, but didn't need the baggie. Other times he was laughing with his buds.

    Did I think he was faking the cramps? No. Regardless, my mom-sense told me that this was indeed a phantom illness. But I sometimes cashed in my sick days when I was just hung over or unwilling to deal with the realities of work and my bed felt especially cozy. I decided that Maxon was suffering similarly, hung over from his blissful snow day and unwilling to deal with the realities of long division and the art project that required the use of the grating wood saw. Anxiety can produce some very convincing physical symptoms.

    When we pulled up to school, I told him to stay in his seat while I emptied the clown car.

    I arranged for a friend to pick up Ezra from school later that day. Maxon and I went home, he lay on the sofa watching T.V. and occasionally suffering from cramps. I sat close to him and wrote all day, calmly instructing him to take some deep breaths every time he grasped my arm in pain.

    Yeah. I indulged my son's idontwannagotoschoolitis. I let him have a day full of T.V. and lazing. But just as I had my allotment of sick days in my office jobs, I have a limit for the boys, too. Next time there's no fever or vomiting, it's back to math class, kid.