You know how proud Jerry Seinfeld was of his non-vomit streak? And how devastated he was when it came to an end? My mind was with him this morning as I, too, contemplated the end of a streak I hold sacred: In the Post-Marriage Era, on days that the kids have been with me, neither has ever stayed home sick from school.
I'm not sure how you're reacting to this at home. You may be awed. You may scoff incredulously. You superstitious types may be chiding me for mentioning the streak so brazenly and thus inviting a jinx. (You people are the most narcissistic and sad of all.) Superstitions are malarkey, jinxes do not exist, and children do not stay home from school on my watch.
The Streak nearly ended, however, when the 10yo staggered out of his room feeling "groggy." He'd missed school yesterday (thanks to his mother, whose lenience is her tragic undoing) and asserted he didn't feel any better today. His throat was scratchy. He coughed a few times into his elbow. He looked at me as if he'd spent one day too many aboard a cruise ship. He made his case to stay home a second day, foolishly forgetting with whom he was dealing:
R: Dad, I think I should lay low today.
Me: If you do, no movies or computer. You'll need your rest.
R: That's fine. All I want to do is sleep.
Hmm. A willingness to forego electronic entertainment without protest.
Me: You might have to get dressed anyway and come to the library while I work.
R: I could to that. I'll just sit and read in the corner.
Maintaining his message. He was bringing his A-game today.
Me: You know that middle school we all want you to go to next year?
Me: One of the things they'll check on your application is your attendance and lateness record.
R: What for?
Me: Because they want to see that you're willing to apply yourself, and they know that kids who miss a lot of time can struggle to catch up.
R: [pause] Let me see if taking a shower helps.
Miracle of miracles, the shower restored him to only slightly imperfect health. He went off to school, came back feeling fine, and my streak remains unbroken. Javert would be proud.