Making Quinn Miserable

First thing this morning, Quinn told me he didn’t feel well and that he didn’t think he should go to school. I didn’t think he was really all that sick. I didn’t think he was sick at all. This led me to assess my options:

(1) Keep Quinn home.
(2) Send Quinn to school only to hear from the nurse 45 minutes later that he wasn’t feeling well and wanted to come home. At this point, I would again assess my options:
     (a) Go get Quinn and bring him home.
     (b) Ask the nurse to send him back to his classroom, only to get another
     call a half hour later when Quinn did one of two things:
          (i) Was disruptive and complainy enough to be sent back to the nurse’s
          (ii) Wanted to come home so desperately that he convinced his brain
          he needed to throw up, which would lead to his throwing up on a desk
          in the classroom and being sent home.

This wasn’t my first rodeo. No matter what, Quinn was hanging out with me at home today. I decided to just start with him there.

I’m not stupid though. I knew what he wanted. He wanted a fun day, full of cats and cuddling and board games and maybe once I got tired of actively making his day the best it could be, I would send him off to play video games with a smile on my face.

Nice try, little man. Quinn expressed his belief that “taking care of him” was the same thing as “entertaining him.” Thus began my campaign to make Quinn’s day as boring and miserable as humanly possible.

I started by making him nap. Unfortunately, as he was not actually sick and it was 8:45 in the morning, he was unable to fall asleep. Happily, he had a cat to amuse him.

Quinn lying on the couch with a small black cat.

I spend most of my life trying to get the cats to sit with me and they steadfastly refuse, but Quinn stays home once and they decide that the couch is the most comfortable place in the world to sit.

Unfortunately, cats aren’t very good at holding conversations, so I was the recipient of Quinn’s non-stop chatter until I forced him to read. Funnily enough, this didn’t stop his chatter, but just focused it to the topic of cats, which was the subject of each of the three library books he had checked out last week.

Quinn would intermittently say things like, “I’m going to play video games at one! I have a quest to complete!” and “Can I play video games now?” I alternated answering every one of his questions with either “no” or “Do you want me to drive you to school?”

During hour two, I realized that we were out of milk and bacon, so we went to the grocery store. This provided many opportunities to make Quinn miserable by doing things as simple as pushing the cart slowly past the bakery department without stopping.

Quinn sitting in a cart, pointing.

In this photo, Quinn is pointing at cookies. Shortly thereafter, he started heaving his body back and forth, trying to move the cart from within. He failed.

I’m not made of stone though. Per his request, I bought him chocolate chip toaster waffles, causing Quinn to smile slyly and say, “Your no-spoiling plan has backfired.”

After the grocery store, we spent the rest of the day at home, reading, eating waffles, and bickering like an old married couple.

Sample conversation:

Me: “You are an obstinate little man, Quinn.”
Quinn: “What does ‘obstinate’ mean?”
Me: “It means stubborn.”
Quinn: “I think it means epic.”

The low point of the afternoon was our ten-minute fight over what to do with the little bits of soap stuck to the bottom of the bathtub, which were evidently interfering with Quinn’s ability to take an afternoon soak. I was of the opinion that it was soap and the problem would resolve itself as soon as there was water in the tub. Quinn, on the other hand, believed that I should scrub the tub immediately and, upon his arrival home, Jack—who left the soap bits in the tub yesterday—should be promptly and severely punished.

I’m happy to say that I prevailed—in both the bathtub fight and the longer term struggle to keep Quinn mostly happy, slightly bored, and away from any and all screens for the whole day.

He may not know it yet, but Quinn will be headed back to school tomorrow. Fortunately, I think he’s ready.

And if he’s not? Well, today’s chocolate chip waffle mistake won’t happen again.

15 thoughts on “Making Quinn Miserable

  1. Ahahaha that’s brilliant! I used to do this too, determined to make their day at home far more uncomfortable than going to school would’ve been… only for them to suddenly break into a fever or start puking, at which point I’d dissolve iand feel like the worst mother ever as I gave them everything they ever wanted. I’m not entirely certain that it wasn’t part of the plan.

  2. This was always my plan too. The only difference being the sick child had to stay in his bedroom and rest until after school hours, minus meals and other necessities. Sometimes it only lasted an hour.

    • It couldn’t hurt. (Personally, I think they smell terrible when they’re cooking though. I don’t know how my kids eat them.)

  3. Ah, the sick or not sick dance. I know it well.

    When I have proof (fever, vomiting, diarrhea) then I am nice Mom. They are confined to their rooms entirely but given an ipad or laptop and food is brought to them.

    If there is no proof, then I am mean Mom. They are in their rooms entirely but can read or sit and watch paint dry (that is already dry- the worst!)

    I find that because I make life deathly boring and interactionless unless they are really sick, it has phased itself out. WINNING!

  4. I try so hard to be mean mom. Unfortunately, my boys can usually lout last my resolve, and the nature of their unique neurology makes the whole ignoring thing extremely difficult.

  5. Hello This is Keegan again from the Sluis Academy. There is nothing wrong with a little mother and son day. I agree it must be tough to make those decisions in the morning but I agree that you made the right one today. Maybe he just wanted to spend a day with his mama!

  6. Soap! Stuck to the bottom of the bathtub! The humanity! Oh, God. The humanity!
    (My kid was like that too when he was younger. The discovery of fabric softener residue in the fabric softener doo-hickey in the washing machine once made him call my housekeeping into question in the most severe and insulting way.)

  7. When I was home “sick” my mom wouldn’t let me do ANYTHING. She’d bring me food in bed, no tv, couldn’t leave the house…no games…miserable. When i was SICK it was couch, TV all day and being read to. She always knew the difference between “sick” and SICK. Mainly by the fever and sick symptoms or the lack of them. However, at the time I thought she was magic.

  8. It is difficult to discern between obstinacy, and actual illness. Or a combination of both. :(

    If you’re REALLY ill, then there’s a [boring] menu for that: broth, crackers, tea, bananas, apple sauce, etc. Until you feel better, of course.

    Also? I’m not critiquing your parenting. I’m not qualified for that!

    Hope everyone feels better by Thanksgiving! :)

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