Yesterday started like any other day. The alarm clock went off at 5AM. I got myself, my dogs and my son ready and out the door by 6:15. I taught my first two classes, sat in on a PPT meeting that lasted an hour – that hour coming from my 84 minute prep period – and was just about to sit down to eat lunch when I got a text from daycare:
“Probably nothing to worry about but Parker has really been digging at his ear and says it hurts.”
Damn it. Damnit. Damn. It.
My son is pretty much never sick. Two bouts with croup, and that’s it in 22 months. He has nearly broken his arms and legs about a thousand times and rarely cries, so if he says it hurts, it actually hurts.
Do I take him to the doctor? Do I just leave him there until his normal time? It’s 11:45 now, so he’ll fall asleep in an hour and 15 minutes. Should I have her put him down to sleep early? Will he miss lunch? Am I a bad mom if I leave him there? What if ear infections are contagious? Can he go deaf from an ear infection? What would he look like with a bionic ear? Should I eat lunch? When did I take that cottage cheese out of my lunch box? Can it go bad that quickly? Will she know that I ate lunch instead of calling the doctor immediately? Should I write lesson plans for tomorrow? What shirt is he wearing? Will he look like a homeless kid at the doctor’s office? Do I have snacks in my car? I don’t have the diaper bag with the actual diapers in it – should I wing it and hope for the best?
So I called. I explained the situation – the text; no, there’s no fever; no, he’s never had an ear infection. Sure, I can get there at 1:30.
When I called my husband he said, “I can probably take him.”
“I can’t do probably,” I snapped. “You either can or you can’t! I’ll take him.”
Then I make the next call. To the administrative assistant who now has to find someone to cover my last class of the day. I have never said, “I am so sorry to do this…” in so many different ways before. Thank God for another teacher in my department who watched my class. Thank goodness I also teach English, and there was a film that fit perfectly with the novel that we just finished reading. Don’t judge because (A) when you were in high school you loved Movie Day, and (B) I was fresh out of self-guided lesson plans for sophomores about writing thesis statements for a literary analysis paper.
I rushed to daycare, found my son asleep with his face mashed into an arm chair – she tried to keep him awake, but alas, when the kid wants to sleep, he sleeps hardcore. I woke him up, and clearly he thought he was dreaming until we were about halfway to the doctor’s office – at which point my gas light went on, sweet. At the pediatrician’s office, the line at the receptionist’s desk was a mile long, and that gave PK enough time to take all of the puzzles down and make a wall out of chairs that he got stuck behind. Yes, he is so cute Mom I’ve Never Met, can you please watch him while I take care of this insurance paper?
At the end of all of this, there was no ear infection, by the way. I’ll be paying for them to tell me he weighs 35 pounds and has a runny nose. (I know, better safe than sorry.) The thing is, when a teacher takes a day off, someone has to come in and cover for her. I can’t just put my work off for another day. Another adult has to fill my space and make sure the kids don’t do stupid teenager things. And I pull from a bank of sick days that I’ve accumulated, which I depleted considerably two years ago when I had a baby. More importantly, if I ever want to have another child, I have to bank at least 30 days in order to get my full paid maternity leave.
So, one sticker and a high-five later, we were out the door and on our way home. I thought for sure it would be naptime when we got home. Nope! We played toys – he actually tells me we need to “play toys” as a very specific activity. So then I thought for sure it would be early bedtime. Nope!
He made it all the way to bedtime, that little maniac.
And today he was fine.