Yesterday morning, the inevitable happened. It is just six weeks into the school year, and I was blundering my way down the stairs, when I heard the TV on the cartoon channel and the Girl-child was stretched out on the sofa, wrapped up like a burrito in her quilt. This is unusual because my kids are now school aged and have to use alarms and bells and whistles to be woken up in the morning. Hubby was in his usual position at the kitchen table, eating his Raisin Bran, nose in paper. "What's with . . .?" nodding my head in the direction of the living room. He didn't even look up. "She doesn't feel well," he said. "#@&," I thought, "There goes my day." My first reaction, as a Mother of the Year contender, is that she would have to go through my three-step plan to prove it. I felt her head. No fever. Second: Did you or do you have to throw up? "I might," she replied, rather hopefully, I thought. Step three: Get up and get dressed and we'll see how you do. Her reply, "But I don't feeeel good, and my stomach HURTS!" Later as she headed for the bathroom after two bites of toast and some orange juice, I called after her -- "And if you throw up, I want to SEE it!" I had to implement this part B to Step 2, because since the age of four she is crafty enough to go into the bathroom, make gagging noises, flush the toilet and come out to announce, "I threw up." Five minutes later I was on the floor, cleaning up the spot just inches from her target with Brand X paper towels that don't absorb a thing. And now, the tables had turned. "Now that I threw up, I feel better. So can I go to school?" "No." "But I'll miss the last day of unicycles in PE!" (Yes, this at a school that doesn't celebrate Halloween, but has a Fall Party -- how exciting can leaves and faceless pumpkins be? And they ride unicycles in PE) Then she tells me she also has a headache. "From when the chair fell on my head yesterday." So, now, I'm thumbing through the AMA reference section in my head, desperately trying to remember: Head injury accompanied by vomiting? That's not good. What if it's two days after the chair fell and it only weighs a few pounds? I'm searching her eyes to see if the pupils look weird -- her eyes that are such a deep brown that they're almost black and the pupils are lost. I'm looking back and forth, right eye, left eye, and she's all wide-eyed doing the same with me. Pupils are fine. We settle into our day, me determined to use every minute to my best advantage. This means laundry and putting photos in scrapbooks . At 1:00 Hubby comes home early and we turn on the baseball game, until the cable guy shows up and he and Son #1 are in and out of the house, up and down the stairs, trying to figure out why the picture skips and we only get half the channels I've been paying for the past six months. Hubs is on the 16-foot-extension ladder doing some touch up painting and Girl-child is halfway up the ladder behind him. I order her down and to the front room to do some reading. Minutes later she's lying with her behind on the sofa, head on the floor, book held over her head. And I'm thinking to myself, is this typical behavior (or a good idea) for a head injury victim? Chicken soup is consumed and ejected. "I feel better. Can I go to school now?" "No." By late afternoon she's fighting with her brother, playing the guitar and begging to go outside to play with the neighbor child. And I'm looking forward to the next day when she and EVERYONE will be gone and I'll have the house to myself. 2 a.m. -- In my dream I'm at the airport with Son #1 and he's being chased by Chinese Terrorists (Chinese??). Someone is tapping on my arm. "I threw up." I'm thinking I'd rather go back to sleep and face the terrorists, but I stumble to the bathroom where she has ONCE AGAIN missed the target. What is with this child? This morning she pleaded with me to let her go to school. Her stomach is fine, she insists. And don't tell the Mother of the Year committee. But I let her go. I can tell you this, only because I'm sure none of your kids go to her school and you won't turn me in. With instructions to go to the clinic if she feels at all queasy, I watched her skipping across the playground, smiling and waving at me over her shoulder. Kids are nothing, if not resiliant. And I may not get the Mother of the Year Award. But, for today at least, I get 99 channels. All to myself.