“But I’m sick!”
How ill does your child have to be before he gets to stay at home?
Perhaps your boss has summoned you to an important meeting, or your client can only see you at a specific time. Maybe you have arranged to leave the house for the day or get the carpet cleaners in- that’s why it’s not just a simple yes/no decision when your child says he’s too sick to go to school.

Most parents know when their kid really is sick-she’ll lose her appetite, or have flushed cheeks and a damp brow. She’s even too weak to put on a favourite DVD. Those days, it’s easier to decide to look after her at home. But what about other days? My kids have each (at some point) attempted a stay-at-home ploy during their school careers.

The ploy is different from an obvious sickness. It may be a sore stomach or a headache, or just a general malaise. Hard to diagnose. Even if you don’t have Munchausen by Proxy, you’ll likely worry that they really are ill, and that, if you send them off to class, you’ll be endangering them in some horrible way.


I’m sure some parents welcome the opportunity to skive off work for a day in order to look after a sick child, but many don’t have that option. I remember one or two years when almost my entire annual leave had been used up by surprise parenting days when a sick child had needed some nursing.
There have been times when I’ve judged a nose “not too runny” or suggested that they make sure they just cover their mouths when they cough, and other times when I’ve given in to the plaintive looks. Sorry, other parents- my child may well have passed something onto yours. Those days seldom ended in ER visits.


There could be another reason for fake illness, though. Reasons range from strict teachers, looming project deadlines, swimming class when your child hates swimming or perhaps even bullying. If you suspect there’s something affecting your child emotionally and causing them to want to skip school, it’s important to find out what could be causing the anxiety by chatting about every aspect of school. It's different from traditional "bunking" just to have fun.

I know- I’m a bad dad sometimes: I have dispensed Panado when I have suspected that the pain is being faked, and taken days off work only to have my formerly sick child bounce back from the edge of the grave within a matter of minutes.

It was the second day of the new term today. My eldest claimed to have a very sore tummy, and guzzled the chocolate muffin in his lunchbox, before asking me to restring his guitar. With that, I sent him off to granny and grandpa so that I could get back to work.

I sincerely hope he isn’t really sick.

Do your kids ever have fake illnesses, and what do you do about it?

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