The Girl who cried wolf

by Jennifer on April 3, 2008

Would someone please tell George Bush that the word terrorists has three syllables? Yes, three. The word is not terr-ists. It is ter-ror-ists. Are we supposed to be fighting terrists instead?

Because maybe all this time we’ve been going after the wrong people.


spa.gifWould someone please tell me who told the Girl that the nurse’s office at school was a really cool place to hang out?

Lately, I’ve been hearing this at the end of the day:

“I went to the nurse’s office today.”

“Oh, really? How come?”

(Read with a very Scarlett O’Hara affectation) “My tummy hurt.”

“Do you feel sick? Does it hurt, or just feel icky?”

“I don’t know. Can I have a snack now?”

Or this:

“I went to the nurse’s office today.”

“Oh? How come?”

“My head hurted.”



“Hurt. Your head hurt. Does it still hurt?”

“Not very much. Can I have a snack and play on Webkinz?”

But any day now I expect to hear this:

“I went to the nurse’s office today.”

“Oh really? How come?”

“Uh, Mom? Did you forget that I had my hot stone massage scheduled for this afternoon? Right after my oxygen facial? And then they brought lunch in, but I couldn’t eat it. Sweet potato fries? That is so January 2008. Like my toes? I decided to do a color this time. I so needed a break from the French pedicure.”

Yep, I’m convinced that the Girl thinks that the school health office is a spa. Except it’s one where she doesn’t need an appointment, and she’s welcome anytime as long as she can fake a vague malaise of some sort. All the better if it’s impossible to diagnose, because then she gets to sit and drink juice, knock back some bubble gum Tylenol (if she’s feigning a headache), and wait for her mom to come get her.

Unless, of course, her best friend walks past the open door on her way to recess and calls out to Girl. In which case, Girl is obviously better served by claiming a miraculous cure so she can go play on the monkey bars. (This is backed up by anecdotal evidence.)

So last week, Girl had been to the Spa de Health Office at least twice. Then, on Friday at 9 o’clock, I get a call on my cell phone when I was waiting to start in the middle of a color and cut at my salon.

Woman filling in that day for the school nurse: “Girl’s here in the office, and she says her ear hurts.”

Me: (bullshit meter goes off, but I keep my voice even and pleasant, mostly so nurse-woman doesn’t think I’m a bad mother. And, yes, I am honestly concerned. Geez, people, always thinking the worst.) “Oh, really? That’s odd. She didn’t say anything about it before school this morning.” One hour ago.

Nurse-woman: “I can’t look in her ear, since I’m not the nurse, but do you want me to give her some Tylenol?”

We agree that that’s a good course of action, and that I will call back a little later to check on her when my roots are blonde again.

Long story short: An exam later in the day revealed that the Girl who cried ouch all week long (for other totally fake symptoms, please remember) had a nasty little case of swimmer’s ear from spring break camp the week before. Go figure. This wolf was real.

We’ve since had a discussion about only going to the health office when she’s really in pain, has a fever, or if she’s injured, (I really narrowed it down there, didn’t I?), so that the nurse and Mommy know when she really does need to go home or to the doctor. I hope she understands now that she can only go running to the health office if it’s something serious.

Or if she needs a facial.

UPDATE: In a case of Life Imitating Hell…It’s 12:24 pm and the nurse’s office just called. The Girl has a tummy-ache. It “really really hurts.” Girl is not backing down, and threatens to throw up any moment. AGHHHHHH! Yeah, I’m on the way.

UPDATE Part 2: Girl is fine. Girl did not throw up. Girl is a Fibber McFibberpants.  (Girl has been promised a small but significant reward if she does not go to the nurse’s office for the rest of the month, open bleeding wounds or broken bones excepted. Bribery is not beneath me.) 


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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg April 3, 2008 at 6:03 am

ONFLMBO! Bull$hit meter,!!!
You have such a way with words sweetie! The nurses office and school…aah, yes…been there, done that…many more times than I care to remember. It’s so hard to know when it’s really something to be concerned about, but it sounds like you have it under control now. Reminds me when my kids were younger, I use to tell them I didn’t want to hear about it unless someone was bleeding or unconscious…they use to call me at work constantly from the nurse’s office…or from home once they were home by themselves after school. They finally got better or they graduated from HS, I can’t remember!


leendaluu April 3, 2008 at 6:14 am

Oh we have a girl with Camille syndrome, as well…I’m sure I’m on the nurse’s speed dial. And she probably thinks I’m the worst mother on earthy because after I listen to the litany of symptoms my response usually is: Yeah, whatever, call me if she throws up.

You want Bush to work on a *new* word…he hasn’t gotten “newk-u-lar” sorted out yet. 😉

Thanks for your comments..the photos up!

molly April 3, 2008 at 6:21 am

Ah, a time-tested way to get out of class…

Akelamalu April 3, 2008 at 6:53 am

The one time you don’t believe them – it’s real! That’s sod’s law! 🙁

andi April 3, 2008 at 7:34 am

Ya. Elliot always has aches and pains of some sort. And she always wants to put Wiggles or Princess band-aids on them. I fear the day she starts school as I think she too will be hanging with the nurse often. Looks like I have the beginning of a little hypochondriac over here.

Hatchet April 3, 2008 at 7:53 am

We have exactly that same problem over here.

E X A C T L Y.

I’ve told Caitlin the Boy that Cried Wolf story at least 3 times within the last 2 months and her Grammy did as well, last weekend.

I also thought she was faking it when we got the call that she said she felt sick and I made her stay only to get another call an hour later. Then she had a fever and it was the beginning of the flu.

Can’t win for losing over here!

Jenn @ Juggling Life April 3, 2008 at 8:10 am

The nursing office frequent-flyer. A very well-known character at elementary schools everywhere!

Jennifer Harvey April 3, 2008 at 8:11 am

Jenn– They should give her an EZ Pass.

Melissa April 3, 2008 at 8:18 am

THAT is hysterical. Every school nurse in America would really enjoy reading this post.

Lisa Milton April 3, 2008 at 9:02 am

Such a tough call. It’s hard to gauge when they do it so often.

We don’t typically have a nurse so all a kid’s has to do is moan & our not too friendly office staff calls. And lectures.

Now, once my daughter broke her wrist in 2 places, and didn’t even complain too much at school. So, no phone, etc.

The teachers and staff felt rotten that they made her stay at school. After that, EVERY scratch, or bruise deserved a call to me.

Drove me nuts, but they were covering their butts, I’m sure.

{Hope she feels better soon. Take care.}

Betsy Bird April 3, 2008 at 9:43 am

At least she’s giving the health room people something to do.

TEOM? April 3, 2008 at 9:47 am

Since I have all boys, they never thought it was a spa – just recess.

Daryl E April 3, 2008 at 9:53 am

I think Shrub thinks the terr-ists are the one with the nuk-ler weapons.

I dont think I ever went willingly to the nurse’s office .. ever

Sandy (Momisodes) April 3, 2008 at 10:43 am

ROFL!!! You are hilarious with your BullShit meter !

One word for the Girl- “Genius” 😉

Kelley April 3, 2008 at 11:01 am

I totally hate terrists.

we_be_toys April 3, 2008 at 11:26 am

LOL! I love the comparison of the nurse’s office to the spa! (Do they really do oxygen facials? Gah, I’m such a bumpkin)
That whole crying wolf thing is tough – we’ve had some go-rounds with it too, mostly my youngest, and I’ve had to throw the bullshit flag more than once.
But lordy, girl, you tell it so well!

Tricia April 3, 2008 at 12:00 pm

I am sure my “girl” thinks the nurses office is an activity. It seems to be the place to go to avoid things you don’t enjoy.

Lisa April 3, 2008 at 12:01 pm

I did the same thing as GIRL–it got me out of PE 🙂

Kellan April 3, 2008 at 12:05 pm

I loved this title. My neice has been on this “nurses office” kick lately. My kids are pretty good about only going to the nurses office when they are “really” sick, as we have had many discussions on what is acceptable “sickness” to go. They all try this at one time or the other. Funny post, Jennifer – see you later – Kellan

ByJane April 3, 2008 at 12:11 pm

I once stuck the thermometer in the radiator. Boy, did my mom freak at my raging fever! But I got to stay home another day.

cce April 3, 2008 at 12:53 pm

This is totally a girl thing…my six year old spent the first half of the school year with the nurse rather than endure the long day with a mean teacher. After meeting her teacher I kind of understood. So we made a deal. She gets to visit the nurse when she needs a break from the outrageous expectations of her mean teacher but as soon as they threaten to call me she needs to make a full recovery. Them are the rules!

david mcmahon April 3, 2008 at 1:04 pm

Struck a chord with me, Jennifer!!

And I loved your comment on my camel story!! Brilliant ….

liv April 3, 2008 at 1:15 pm

i admire girl’s spunk. clever. and yet, so real. i hate it when things are not black and white!

Just Jamie April 3, 2008 at 2:32 pm

Why I didn’t figure out that trick as a youngin’ is beyond me. Clever one. I only could imitate Elliot on ET and heat up the thermometer (which broke at about 115. I was really sick).

Landon April 3, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Loved it. Just loved it. 🙂
But don’t get me started on our fearless leader’s enunciation (or lack thereof…).

Madge April 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm

you know it’s OK if Amurcuns are going after terrists.

Tootsie Farklepants April 3, 2008 at 7:05 pm

I’m so glad my kids haven’t figured this out yet. I was an aide in the nurses office in jr. high. When kids signed in I had to take their temperature. If my friends wanted to go home I wrote 99.something. Now that I’m a parent I know how much I sucked then.

HRH April 3, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Girl just knows the spa secret. I didn’t figure that one out until now. Girl is so smart.

Carolyn April 4, 2008 at 12:21 am

I’m super tired and need to go to bed, but I just had to comment. Sorry if someone already said this. I usually read all the comments before commenting, but no time tonight….

You are not a bad mother. Know that when I say this: Your daughter might not be fibbing. I had an inner ear infection (labrythitis) a few weeks ago that left me headachy and nauseated, but the symptoms disappeared after lying down for a few minutes.

I’m just sayin’…

Jennifer Harvey April 4, 2008 at 12:41 am

I suppose I wrote that out of frustration–cheerful frustration, but maybe that didn’t come across. According to the doctor, her symptoms should have been in check by now, after 6 days of ear drops. And her ear infection was swimmer’s ear, in the outer ear. She recovered almost immediately when we got into the car, and had a great time grocery shopping with me.

But I absolutely get your point. I promise that I called her a fibber out of fondness, and with hope, since I think she’s motivated now to stay in class, since she really wants this particular reward. 🙂

Thank you for mentioning that, and I will keep it in mind for the future.

imbeingheldhostage April 4, 2008 at 6:24 am

Hilarious! This was a fun post. I came by way of David’s blog today and really enjoyed your blog.

DP April 4, 2008 at 6:30 am

Oh my God! Yes, you’d best nip it in the bud right now, because my daughter is 24 and spends most of her time in ERs and hospital beds. She has some legitimate illness (lupus) but when the going gets tough (that is, when we push her to get a job) she starts vomiting and goes to the hospital.

I’m hoping your little one is a much lesser case.
My cautionary tale is in a little-published blog here:

My happier blog is available by clicking on my name. Peace – D

Crazycath April 4, 2008 at 9:10 am

Oh no she’s learnt well hasn’t she?

Bribery works every time. But only if you stick to your part – any visits to the nurse for fake reasons (or even, slight ones) and no treat.

Tough love Jennifer! Tough love! She’ll thank you when she’s older. lol

katney April 4, 2008 at 12:19 pm

The only reason I am not seeing the same kids taking turns on the sick kids’ cot in our school office this week is because we are on spring break. I imagine they have all been extremely healthy this week and the ailments will resume on Monday.

David sent me this way.

Almost American April 4, 2008 at 1:25 pm

Hope you never get a call from the nurse’s office like the one I heard about yesterday – girl says she’s gonna throw up, nurse sends her back to class, girl throws up, nurse calls dad, dad takes her home and leaves her there (not wanting to be around someone with a tummy bug), girl delivers baby in bathtub by hersefl before calling another relative to tell them what’s really going on. Oh, and girl (age 17) knew she was pregnant – but was too scared to tell anyone! True story – she’s the mother of a classmate of my son’s.

I’m a mean mommy who always sends them to school no matter how sick they claim they are, and wait for the nurse to call me. One day DD didn’t even make into class – her teacher sent her right to the nurse! I felt bad about that one.

Jennifer Harvey April 4, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Almost American, that is a horrible story. That poor girl. Sounds like the dad won’t be winning any parenting trophies. How could they not tell she was pregnant?

I hope the baby was okay? And the girl.

Carolyn April 4, 2008 at 8:26 pm

Jennifer – Oh Gosh!!! I totally didn’t mean to sound like I was admonishing you. Csilla is already a drama queen, totally adept at manipulating me, so I know what it looks like and I’m the first to call her a fibber!! Your writing was clearly full of fondness and sincerity about your daughter. I only mentioned it because the weird thing about the ears is that they can cause other symptoms that often disappear after a little horizontal time on the couch. (And I’m not a swimmer, so I didn’t know that’s an outer ear thing). Sorry… forgive me?

JCK April 4, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Fibber McFibberpants indeed. 🙂 Too funny…well, not for you. Just make sure you teach her NOT to say,

Jennifer Harvey April 5, 2008 at 1:04 am

Carolyn, I’m emailing you, please, there’s nothing to worry about!

Melissa April 5, 2008 at 1:32 pm

I came over by way of Woman With a Hatchet. My girl and her friends get in to contests I believe, to see who can visit the nurse the most often during the course of a single school day. We get to hear about her visits and those of her friends as well. I think her school nurse has a good BS meter, as I have never gotten a call yet this year.

The word I can’t stand to hear President Bush say..Nuclear.

Brenda April 7, 2008 at 8:58 am

You know, do you think the nurse’s office would figure out that their place SEEMS spa-like to children and notice when they’re all coming to hang out? How can they WANT all those kids sitting in there drinking juice and whining about symptoms?

I guess unless they call you, why should you care?!

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