The Computer Virus

“How are you feeling sweetheart?” I asked, gently placing a tray of food down in front of him.
“Ok, thanks,” he replied.
Master Seven was home from school, sick.
His teacher had called the day before and, with me at work, Learner Dad’s mum had picked him up for me.
By the time we all got home that night, he really seemed ok.
But it seemed a day spent being pampered with sweets and computer games had appealed to him and, the next morning, he burst into tears as he was getting ready for school.
“I still don’t feel well,” he’d complained sadly, rubbing his eyes.
Clearly exhausted, I told him he could stay home, but that it meant nourishing food, no computer games and, most importantly, bed rest.
All day.
“This’ll be interesting,” I muttered to Learner Dad as he left for work.
A full day in bed with nothing to do would determine just how sick this kid was.
The first hour passed.
I went down with some toast and he looked at me solemnly.
Remembering how much I’d loved being nursed by my own mother on a sick day, I continued to visit him every hour with something to eat or with a book to read.
Three hours after his bed rest began, I had Li’l Fatty down for a nap and was sitting on the couch watching Friday Night Lights.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Though I still doubted he was ill, Master Seven clearly understood what a sick day meant.
I was also slightly worried.
He wasn’t meant to be so… so content.
He wasn’t meant to enjoy a sick day.
At 1pm I popped down with an Easter egg and a hot pack for his aching legs.
His eyes lit up.
But he seemed distracted.
His eyes kept slipping sideways, glancing at something in his peripheral.
I looked in the same direction.
Under his Lego table I could see a tiny blue light winking back at me.
Realisation dawned.
His DS!
I whipped it out, pulling it roughly from the charger.
“Have you been playing this?” I asked, waving it in front of his face.
“Yes…” he admitted, casting his eyes as far down as was possible while stretched out on your back.
“For how long?” I asked, looking at his red-rimmed, slightly unfocused eyes.
“Since I got in to bed,” he answered quietly.
The four hours I’d thought he was sleeping, reading or simply just resting, he had spent hopfrogging his way through Mario Galaxy with his busy brain and even busier fingers.
He told me he’d been playing it while it was on the charger and that he’d simply jump back into bed every time he heard me coming.
Half an hour after I took the DS away, Master Seven was out of bed and playing basketball in the courtyard.
I didn’t try to stop him.
The more energetic he was, the more ammunition I’d have for sending him to school the next day.
The deceit astounded me.
My seven-year-old had not only tricked me into letting him stay home, he’d tricked me for hours after.
As I stood at the window, watching my son shoot hoops and dribble tricks, I realised I now had to be on MY game.
My little boy, who’d always been either clearly well or unwell, had learned the art of faking.
And I had a feeling this first attempt was an amateur one.
His best, ‘fully sick’ efforts were yet to come.

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