I picked up the handset, "Hello?"
"Hi, it's Miss C here - Izzy's teacher at school," said the voice at the other end.
"Oh hello, what can I do for you?" I asked.
"Izzy isn't feeling very well and I was wondering whether you could come and collect her?" asked Miss C.
"Yes of course, I can," I replied, before adding, "what's wrong with her?"
"I am not entirely sure to be honest, I think she might just be feeling a bit delicate."
Delicate? Izzy? She normally has the constitution of a Cart-Horse mixed with a Russian Shot Putter.
I drove to the school and buzzed security box at the gate to enter the playground. It was lunchtime playbreak and the yard was thronging with children all doing Brownian Motion at full speed. After a quick scan of the mayhem, I saw Izzy in the corner of the playground being hugged by two other girls.
I walked over to them and the girls instantly became animated, "Hello Izzy's Mum," they said, jumping around excited by the drama, "Izzy is poorly."
"Thank you for looking after her," I said and turned to Izzy, "What's wrong with you sweetheart?"
She replied, "I am poorly."
"Which bit is hurting?" I asked.
"My tummy," she said.
"Where?" I questioned.
"Here," she replied, pointing to the wrong bit, her lower abdomen. Then she added, "Daddy didn't rinse the washing-up liquid out of my water bottle."
That was when I started getting suspicious about Izzy's "illness", and this was compounded by the fact that when we were leaving the playground, Izzy bumped into her best friend, May. They both regarded each other with glee and started jumping up and down. Blimey, she didn't need a stretcher, that's for sure.
"Hey Mum," Izzy shouted, seemingly having forgotten her 'delicate' state, "can we show you our dancing routine?"
Now you can call me a Victorian mother, but by this stage I was starting to suspect that the illness was not quite as acute as Izzy had been making out. And now that I was confronted with pseudo tap-dancing and flailing arms, I was pretty sure that there wasn't much wrong with Izzy.
But still, it was school protocol to take home children that were considered unwell, and as such, I bundled Izzy into the car and drove her home. Once through the front door, I told Izzy to go and lie on the sofa where I wrapped her in a blanket. To be on the safe side, I took her temperature and checked for rashes.... but there was nothing.
"Ok, Izzy," I said, "you can sleep there for the afternoon."
Izzy looked at me, adding weakly, "can I watch TV?"
"Most definitely not," I replied, "if you are well enough to watch TV, you are well enough to go to school." [note to self: AAGH! I am turning into my parents! They used to say shit like that to me].
Izzy looked shellshocked by my decision, stuttering, "but last time I was ill you said I could watch TV."
"That is because last time you were ill you weren't missing school," I said.
I ignored her protestations and went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. Less than two minutes later I heard a pitiful voice coming from the living room..... "Mum, I feel better now." Darn. It was confirmation that I had been gibbed by the illness milarky.
I walked back to find a rather perky looking Izzy standing in the middle of the room. She looked at me pleadingly with big, lovely eyes ..... "if I can't watch TV, can I play with my toys instead?" she asked.
Now, I am not sure if I did the right thing here [all suggestions gratefully accepted], but I refused to let her play with her toys.... "Nope, we are going to spend the afternoon doing numeracy and literacy exercises," I told her. I was determined to make missing school a non-fun experience.
To be honest, I felt a bit mean. For all I knew, she could have been genuinely ill. But then again I grew up with a medical doctor as a father, and I literally would have to have contracted leprosy, pneumonia and a pulmonary embolism at the same time to miss even a minute of school.
I remember being knocked down by a car once, breaking several ribs and my left arm in three places. After being treated by Accident and Emergency, I was dropped right back off at school. Mind you, I was pretty accident prone in general.
Pic.No.1. The "patient" seemed to have made a miraculous recovery. I must be like Mother Theresa .... either that or Izzy wasn't ill in the first place
So my question is this - if you were in charge of a child that was suspected of being ill during school time (or whom might be pretending), what would YOU do? ....... Victorian parent, or bleeding heart?!
P.S. I am looking forward to the answers to this one because quite frankly, I found today's decisions difficult!