First sick day

I climbed in the bed with him, pulled him close, whispered the question I had tried asking a hundred different ways already. “Why don’t you want to go to school?” And he just cried. It was the cry he makes when he’s trying to hide his emotions. The whistling sound that comes before he starts shaking and covering his face. It makes my heart ache. It makes me want to kick things and scream.


He can’t answer me. And I don’t know how to help him.


This year started badly. I could say that in a fancier way, but I really just want the point to be clear. Badly. My son, who needs routine and thrives on schedule, was moved to a new campus and given a new teacher. When that didn’t work out, he was moved to a different class again, which I thought might help. But it may be more than he can handle. So far, it seems to be. He’s sick this morning as well, but that’s never stopped him before. I asked him if he could tell me how going to school makes him feel.




I rarely use that word in my writing. There are so many better ones to color the page. But this simple word, whispered by my little boy, is like a knife in my chest. Sad. But why? Why is it that as soon as I say he can stay home, my happy little guy returns? He hugs me and stops shaking. His chin is blessedly still. I continue to tremble, because I know something he hasn’t figured out yet. I don’t know the answers!


Today he’ll be here with me, safe from whatever is frightening him. But what about tomorrow?


I discovered this morning, as I was struggling to decide what to do, that there’s another reason I love writing. One I haven’t shared in previous posts on the topic. Control. It’s not a particularly inspiring word, so it’s not surprising it never made it on my list. But today it’s clear to me.

If my characters get themselves into trouble—with help from me, of course—I can always get them out. Or I can choose not to get them out and teach them something valuable. In the end, I always have control. If only life were that way.


~ by Rachel McMahon on September 7, 2011.

3 Responses to “First sick day”

  1. Oh, Rachel. How my heart hurts for you and your helplessness. I know that feeling well even though I cannot imagine how difficult this is. Please know that I love you and am here for you always!

  2. I continue to pray for Gabie and for you. I wish I could hug you both right now, while I hold my tears back! Tell Gabie that Aunt Lisa loves her Gabie baby! I love you both!

  3. Thank you both! I’ve gotten some good news from the school, so things are looking up. They’re very willing to work with me, which helps a lot.

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