The Monday Snapshot: The Bad Day Do-Over

This is my FIRST contribution to part of a weekly feature called The Monday Snapshot over at PAIL.

Snuggle Bug

This morning did not go well.  When it was time for Daniel to get dressed, I found him reclining on the couch, and he told me he didn’t want to go to daycare and that he didn’t feel good. I cuddled him for a minute and asked him if his tummy hurt and if he needed to throw up.  He said no, but that he wanted to stay home.  Me too, kid.

His little face looked up at me slyly, and he smiled and repeated that he wanted to stay home.  I decided that he was “telling a story” as they say to get out of going to daycare.  He didn’t feel warm and hadn’t thrown up since Friday. We had a talk about things we have to do vs things we want to do and that mommy and daddy needed to go to work and he needed to go to daycare.

I told him again to get dressed.  He refused and the situation deteriorated quickly.  Next thing I knew, Jimmy was holding a screaming child while I struggled to dress him.

We were livid.  He was livid.  I wondered how a 3 foot tall little person could have so much anger at 3.5 years.  I wondered how adults in their mid-thirties could have so much anger at a 3.5 year old.   I carried my sobbing, raging child to the car and strapped him in, feeling defeated and miserable.

I tried to make amends on the trip to day care.  I told him he would have fun.  He would go outside and play with his friends and before he knew it, I would be there to pick him up.

Daniel replied, “No sir.  No SIR.  I will NOT have fun.”

“Fine, ” I sighed.

In his class, his lips trembled, and his face was still flushed from crying.  I cuddled him and told him I loved him and left, feeling like whatever creature makes cockroaches look like higher life forms.  There’s something about those little woebegone faces that make Mondays extra hard.


I had just pulled into a parking space at work when my cell rang.  It was day care.  Daniel had thrown up.  The policy is that a child has to throw up twice before you must come get them.  Having arrived late and left early due to illness on Friday, I hoped to snatch a little time in the office.

Forty-five minutes later, another call from day care.  Daniel had thrown up again.

When I got to his class, Daniel, dressed in too-short pants and odd shoes, ran to me, telling me he had “throwed up.”  He was so happy to see me.  I felt like shit.  He really had been sick. I assumed this morning’s obstinance had been from reluctance to change out of his new, cozy Thomas pajamas and desire to stay home and play with his toys.

I took him home, helped him into his Thomas pajamas and gave him juice.  I explained to him that mommy needed to do a little work.  He played in the kitchen for a little while but soon brought his trains to the dining room table where I was sitting with my laptop.

He played with his trains but decided that my laptop was more fun, joining me in my chair and pressing keys.   So sweet.  So little.  Still so much a baby though he’s almost 4 (WTF?).  I felt humbled that he wanted to be with me, cuddle with me after our awful morning.


In between emails and conference calls, we snuggled and goofed off.  I apologized to him repeatedly and tried to get him to eat a little bit.

I hope it made up for this morning in some tiny way.


  1. Aw, that’s awful for you. It’s so impossible to tell, sometimes, when they’re just being ornery from when they’re sick. It could easily have been a different day when you had the exact same morning and picked him up at the end of the day perfectly happy and healthy. Don’t be hard on yourself.

  2. There was no way for you to know! But I understand. I often times wonder, “how did you miss this, Courtney?” But – he’s OK and he’s home and everyone is happy – and that’s what matters!

  3. I HATE getting that call, when the kid was all weird and trying to convince us she should stay home in the AM, and then of course she gets sick when we’ve elbowed her into going… le sigh. Someday anti-mornings and sick will look different… I’m glad you had a good day at home sick at least!

  4. This exact thing happened to me this past summer. I felt awful about it. But we do the best we can … and sometimes it’s really hard to tell! Hope he’s feeling better … and that you are, too.

  5. That sucks!! If it makes you feel better: Last week my son didn’t want to school but he didn’t feel warm and had no symptoms other than being tired. I took him to preschool. 45 minutes later I get a call that he had fallen asleep in the playground tunnel!! And could I please pick him up? I felt so terrible :/

  6. That’s the thing about 3 year olds! You can’t tell if they are really sick or if they are just being their regular asshole selves. If you kept a 3 year old home from school every time they acted like terrorists, they would never go to school. HA!

  7. I nodded my head along to much of this. We’ve had somewhat similar moments here where I am powerfully reminded that perhaps I wasn’t as attuned to my kid’s needs as I thought I was. It truly can be so hard to know, especially when we so many other competing obligations to meet. Dude, we’re all learning. Every day, a new lesson. Don’t beat yourself up, though, Mama–you did a really powerful thing–you brought him close to you. You apologized. This goes a long way towards modeling that kind of behavior for him. Good lessons for us all. Hope D is feeling better soon!

  8. Yeah, I was just feeling like Worst Parent Of The Year, because Henry was complaining about his foot hurting. His feet always hurt. Always. He wakes up in the middle of the night, crying, because his feet hurt. And I always mean to make an appointment with the pediatrician to get it checked, but I never do. And the only thing I can do to make his feet better is to rub them.

    Anyway, so Henry’s complaining about his feet hurting and I’m ignoring him/patronizing him (oh, I’m so sorry your foot hurts. *rub, rub* poor baby, etc.) because there’s nothing I can do about it and I’m a shitty mom who hasn’t bothered to take him to the doctor for this chronic problem yet, and finally, he’s shouting at me, following me around the kitchen, hobbling, saying, “No, Mama! I step onnit!” and I finally stop being so gahddamned self-centered, and pull off his sock, and sure enough, he has a giant splinter in his foot (a GIANT splinter… ugh.). And I pull it out, and he says, “I fixed it, Mama!”, so proud of himself. Yes, Baby, all you had to do was drag Mama out of her brain fog and smack her around a bit to get your extremely painful situation recognized and remedied. Ugh.

    So yeah, just saying that we all work on limited information, deducing fact based on probable scenarios (Occam’s Razor and all that…), and our partners in this deduction are illogical little sub-communicative beings. It’s hard. And we all beat ourselves up over it. And we all swear we’ll do better next time. And sometimes we do, and sometimes we don’t. But regardless, when I remember my childhood, with the exception of some pretty major parenting fouls on the part of my parents, I don’t remember trying to convince them to believe/help me– I just remember that they finally did believe/help me (most of the time…). I’m hoping it’ll work the same with my boys.

  9. It’s so hard to tell… my 4yo threw up all over the babysitter Tues afternoon, after I’d seen her at lunch and she’d told me she’d had a stomach ache… hugs and snuggles go a long way though.

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