Am I just imagining things, or does The Kid always get sick for one day during the first week of school?
I know he does ... I should have been keeping count.
I don’t know if it’s because he spends all summer away from other kids for the most part and is then thrown into a classroom with 29 strangers one morning or if it’s just the sheer anxiety of it all.
This year is a little different.
I’ll admit that it probably hasn’t been easy for him, having been to so many different schools over the years because we’ve moved so much, but this year he is at a school where he knows not one single person.
It didn’t matter too much when he was younger but now that he is a little older, it makes all the difference in the world.
He’s had butterflies in his stomach all week, had a brief dizzy spell because the time between when he eats breakfast and the lunchtime at school is 90 minutes longer than last year, and of course, the biggest reason of all, not being home with momma.
He was upset that he wasn’t feeling well at school, afraid he was going to hurl in the Egyptology book, but he was sent to the nurse’s station where he was well tended to.
His teacher stopped by to check on him and the nurse sympathized with him being new to the school and being “homesick.”
“Happens all the time,” she told him.
They had tried to call me at home, but I was busy running errands, and by the time I saw that they had called, it was nearly time to pick him up
from school anyway.
He was still a little shaky, but managed to feel well enough to venture to McDonald’s drive-thru.
A sip of Coke and a chicken McNugget.
Like methadone to an 11-year-old.
He was fine, perfectly fine, during the day when they have an “early out.” No problem.
Although hungry because he wasn’t happy with the stuffed lunchbag I’d provided him, we again zipped over to MickeyD’s for his fix.
When we got home, I opened the lunchbag, an insulated lunchbag I might add, and noticed the only thing missing was a cup of applesauce and his Oreo’s.
Baby carrots? Intact, as was the extra cup of applesauce.
“No wonder you feel lousy! You didn’t eat lunch!” I admonished.
“Well, not to hurt your feelings, Mom, but the sandwich ... kinda boring.”
“What? Boring? How can a sandwich be boring? It’s food! What about the carrots? You always like the baby carrots...”.
“I know. But I would really like the baby carrots, along with celery sticks and sliced cucumber, and a side of ranch dressing.”
“And I suppose if I whipped up a chicken caesar salad and brought it you every day, you would eat, right?”
“You will?” he asked, delighted at the prospect.
“No, of course not. Peanut butter and jelly or a ham sandwich should be fine.”
And then the words came out of my mouth so unexpectedly, so quickly, I didn’t have time to catch myself before uttering them: “You think I’m running a restaurant or something?”
Oh mercy. I had channeled my parents.
It was such a cliche with them that I just couldn’t help myself.
When The Kid actually did wake up sick to his stomach though, he got kept home. Almost the last day of the first week, but not quite. We had almost made it.
As he got to feeling a bit better and was ready to eat, I had nearly completed fixing the meal when I realized it wasn’t me channeling my parents.
It was him.
I looked down at the lunch he had ordered and realized it was exactly the sort of meal my dad would have eaten: baked beans, sliced cucumber, and spaghetti with just salt and butter.
I started laughing, carrying the plate into him as he reclined in the same position we would often find his grandpa.
I handed the plate to him and said, “Tell grandpa the restaurant is now closed. If he wants anything else, it’ll be peanut butter and jelly.”
And he’ll only get applesauce if he cleans his plate.