You might think that being ill is just one of those things that happens. Yeah, right. Life ‘just happens’ to losers, and being ill is a groove that you can work to startling effect with a bit of creative energy.
1. Please - and this is the critical part - ensure that you don’t make the classic mistake of getting infected at the same time as your siblings. Who wants to share the sympathy, after all? Still less relinquish control of the sofa and tv controller? Besides there is really nothing that parents like better than patching together ever more desperate childcare plans to try and paper over the fact they have already taken approximately 6 weeks off this year to ‘work at home’ covering many various mystery illnesses. Ok, so the child who falls ill first in the family domino scenario will doubtlessly engage the most sympathy from their parents - and also the biscuit stocks will be higher - but this is a risk worth taking. If parents are looking a little terse at the prospect of yet another day homeworking/nursing, I suggest a stoic rallying off to school, from where of course you will be sent home after an hour. There you have it – parental guilt plus a guaranteed further 2 days’ sofa time. Result. Just keep a low profile if you hear any stomping around in the kitchen and complaints of missing vital meetings and ‘Why is it always my work that has to suffer??’ This is probably therapeutic for them. We all know that these days of childhood illness are magical bonding times for parent and child.
2. Plan ahead. This is where some losers fall down. You will find that the CBeebies schedule starts to grow old pretty quickly, and even the situation in Ukraine is now on a rolling coverage that lacks flair. This is where your planning will pay dividends. If you have been clever about it, you will have stocked up the Freeview box in advance, and subtly steered your mother towards suitable treats with which to fill the cupboard for such an eventuality. If you want to be extra suave you might sneak a look in your mum’s diary to check that it looks nice and blank. Remember kids, this could be the key difference between a day of sofa cuddles, popcorn and films, and your parent talking through gritted teeth and decidedly not serving up popcorn. It makes good sense.
3. Remember at all times that parents feel protective and cuddly towards genuinely ill-looking, subdued children, who manage to force down a few nibbles of their favourite snacks, and are (relatively) happy to keep rustling up variations on this to tempt them. They tend to feel much less indulgent towards high-maintenance offspring guffawing loudly at Dick and Dom. Parental tolerance falls ever lower if you have fallen fowl of rule 1 and are now bickering with your sibling. Think on. And remember, when a parent enters the room, silence and gratitude are your friends. If all else fails, feigning sleep should buy you another day.
4. Should you need to call your parent into the room to blow your nose for the 457th time in the space of one hour, then good humour can probably be salvaged with an ‘I love you’ and lots of wide-eyed eye contact. (This only works if you are 3 by the way. If you are 8 you should probably learn to blow your own nose). Alternative arsenals, to be saved for when relations are starting to look shaky include, ‘Your hair looks good today,’ ‘You’re funny, Mummy,’ and ‘Have you lost weight?’ These always work, regardless of how many times mummy has told you she’s a feminist.
5. Bedtime – let’s be the bigger people here and lay on the yawning about half an hour ahead of schedule. It’s a small price to pay for the extra sofa time in the bag. Besides Mummy and Daddy will be needing the wine time.
Of course sometimes you will be genuinely ill, and then you won’t need my advice because you will be in bed asleep. Where ill people belong.