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Under the weather

Under the weather

The adorable little boy smiling back at you in the photo above is my 5-year-old son. By the looks of this photo, he is in tip-top shape, but as any parent knows, that’s not always the case.

We’ve all been there. Your child wakes up feeling sick and you have a major work commitment. Grandparents and babysitters are unavailable and so appear the angel and devil on your shoulders to debate your next step.

Angel: Peter, look at him. He’s looking gaunt. He should stay home. He could use the rest.

Devil: He looks bad but not that bad. He’s been worse. Just give him a little Motrin, and he’ll be good to go.

None of us will admit it but your principals know when you have opted for the over-the-counter intervention. Your child starts off strong and then hits a wall.

No judgment. … well, a little judgment. But you won’t find me throwing stones from my glass house!

This week, our 5 year old woke me up at 4:30 in the morning. I yelled out, “It’s still night. Go back to bed!” He informed me that he had thrown up. I prayed to the heavens that he had imagined it, but he hadn’t. And without too many of the details, it was clear he couldn’t go to school.

Like many of you, we don’t have any family in Columbia, so the horse trading began.

In addition to staying with him in the morning, I brought him to my office for an hour. I had a meeting with the Department of Natural Resources as part of our on-going planning sessions for the Nature School, (which by the way is going to be a great school – opening in 2015!) and I simply couldn’t miss it.

Nestled up next to a garbage can and with strict instructions to utilize the receptacle when necessary, I left him watching Toy Story on my phone. About 20 minutes later, a colleague rapped on the door.

“Do you have a minute?” asked the deputy superintendent.

I walked out of the conference room and saw my 5 year old standing in his “Where the Wild Things Are” T-shirt, looking a bit dejected. With a meek whimper, he said, “I threw up.”

Hand in hand, we walked back to my office. I was not prepared for what I saw. I love my son but did not love the redecorating. If I had wanted to go to a Gallagher show, I would have booked tickets (as well as built a time machine to go back to a time where anyone knew who Gallagher was). Who knew that much could come out of a 5 year old? And why couldn’t he have gotten any of it into the garbage can?

I’m happy to report that my youngest is feeling much better. Accompanying the breakfast treats I brought to the office the following morning was a thank you card to my colleagues. It read:

Dear Superintendents,

Thank you for helping me yesterday. My tummy did not feel good, and my body did not want the food to stay in my belly anymore. Baba [Note: he calls me Baba] said that you will be happy that I am feeling better in my stomach again. I will come back to show you I am better.


I didn’t have the heart to tell them that they may not want to see him for some time.

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