Mom, I have a confession: when I was younger, I used to fake sick.
When I faked sick, I understood I had to be smart about what symptoms to have. Trial and error told me faking a fever didn’t work. Too easy to check, dang it, and I was sent off to school. I knew from “ET,” that apparently holding the thermometer up to the light bulb worked, but never had a light bulb at my disposal.
No, it had to be something that couldn’t be checked. Headaches were good, so were sore throats. How was my mom going to disprove those?
I also understood there had to be a balancing act. If my sickness was too serious I might be sent to the doctor’s office. Too wimpy and I should be able to tough it out, go to school and call her if it got worse.
This took a lot of thought and a lot of work. It really was an art form, but if my fake symptoms were accepted, then my reward was sitting on the couch all day watching “Lion King” and “Fifo Goes West,” being served snacks and lots of orange juice. That truly was the life.
Sometimes I was plagued with guilt as I sat there on the couch. I was lying. The benefits I was reaping weren’t deserved and I had essentially turned my mother into a slave of my deception.
Another hardship was continuing my supposed sickness after school was out. I learned, again, from trial and error that appearing considerably better after 3:25 p.m. was not a good idea. So, if a friend wanted to play, I shouldn’t beg my mom to let me.
Ultimately, I found out it was more enjoyable if I actually was sick – no careful fabrication of lies, no guilt.
But sometimes faking it was just necessary for my mental health and had to be done.
College, however, has sucked all of the joy out of faking sick or even being sick. Why? Because we actually pay for classes now. Because we might lose a letter grade if we’re absent. Because our moms aren’t here to give us chicken noodle soup or applesauce.
Now we have to drag ourselves to class with our symptoms, whether real or fake, and our health, or mental health, is never taken care of.
So thank you, Mom, for letting me stay home sick, even though there is no doubt you knew I was faking.