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How to Stay Home From School (By Jack, Age 8)

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Wendi Aarons
Wendi Aarons

1. Around 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, start coughing. When your mommy looks concerned and asks if you're OK, act casual. You're simply planting the seed, baby. Planting. The. Seed.

2. After dinner, up your game by putting on puppy dog eyes and asking your mommy if she'll snuggle with you on the couch. She will immediately say "yes" and whisper to Daddy, "Someone's obviously not feeling well." Try not to chortle as your master plan clicks nicely into place.

3. Let your mommy feel your forehead at bedtime. If she says, "Hmmm, you don't seem that warm," kick off your blankets and whimper, "Then why does it feel like I have hot sauce in my body?" Note: No need to worry about mommy actually taking your temperature because Lord knows that woman couldn't find the family thermometer if it was stuck in her own mouth.

4. Go to sleep as usual, but plan on at least 3-4 coughing fits throughout the night. When mommy comes to check on you, be sure to sweetly ask for Daddy at least once. This will go a long way, my friends. Trust me on this.

5. On Monday morning at 7 a.m. -- otherwise known as "Showtime!" -- stumble into kitchen with messy hair and a more glazed expression than usual. When Daddy asks, "How are you feeling, big guy?" shake your head sadly and stare at your feet. You are The Saddest Second Grader In The Entire World. Sell it like a used 1986 Cadillac, man.

6. Daddy will watch you for a few minutes, then turn to mommy and say, "I don't think he should go to school today. He looked pretty bad when I went into his room last night." Awww, yeah. What's that in your hands right now? It's a whole lotta that Daddy Putty.

7. Wander over to the couch and make whimpering noises. When your older brother yells, "He's faking it! I can tell because he just shoved a bunch of my Pokemon cards into his pajama pockets and smirked at me!" fight the urge to yell back. You're too close to lose it all now, Maestro. Keep those eyes on the mothereffin' prize.

8. At 7:24 a.m., cheerfully wave goodbye to your scowling brother as he gets on the school bus that'll take him to Boring Reading and Writing Town. Feel free to stick your tongue out at him when your parents aren't looking. Will he give you an atomic noogie later? Oh, hells yes. But it's a small price to pay for not having to sit at a desk and learn how to multiply 7s like a moron, isn't it?

9. Ten seconds after the bus leaves, tell your mommy that the only things that'll make you feel better are a kiss from her -- and watching "SpongeBob" with a bowl of Chex-Mix on your lap. Try to keep the smile off your face while you're saying this so she doesn't immediately feel like a chump. Girlfriend will know she's been played soon enough.

10. Around 10 a.m., take a good look at your mommy. If she's taken a shower and is dressed for the day (unlikely), keep up the pathetic sick act. However, if she's still in her pajamas and/or dressed like a teenager hiding a pregnancy (likely), you're totally golden. There's no way she's going to fix herself up and drive you to school where she has to talk to big people now. YOU WIN.

11. Take a victory lap around the house. Be sure to pump your arms and run as fast as possible. If the woman in charge gives you a suspicious look, say, "Ooops. I thought I felt better for a minute there, but I really didn't. I think I need more 'Spongebob' now, sweet mommy. And a kiss. Cough. Cough."

12. Spend the rest of your glorious day watching TV and playing video games. If the idea of taking a nap or reading a book is brought up, shake your head sadly and stare at your feet. If that doesn't work, ask for Daddy. If that still doesn't work, say something completely adorable like, "I miss my teacher today. I hope they're not learning something really cool at school, like photosynthesis." This may be your mommy's first rodeo, but it ain't yours, son. You got this.

13. After a lunch of Chick-Fil-A ("the only thing that sounds good to my tummy") and a few more hours of lazing around like K-Fed on Valium, look out the window and see the school bus chugging down the block. It's 3:09 p.m., my friend, which means you successfully made your sick charade last all day -- whoohoo! Pat yourself on the back if you like -- you deserve it -- but please resist the urge to yell, "In your FACE, Momzo!" You're better than that.

14. When you hear the front door open, prepare to greet your brother. It's best to go with something unexpected and flashy, such as the patented "Launching Self Down Stairs on Purple Ottoman While Screaming 'Here I Come, Nimrod!'"

15. Return to school the next day with a whole lot of swagger and a whole lot of pride.

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