Shamokin PA

Mom too slick to trick by pretending to be sick

Most people think the reason kids do not watch the Academy Awards is that the Oscars program is past their bedtime. The real reason is that kids know that compared to them, paid actors are amateurs.

Many moviegoers are impressed when they see their favorite actor cry on cue. Big deal! A 3-year-old tot can turn his or her tear ducts off or on as if using teensy-weensy valves.

I wasn’t a particularly skilled pint-sized actor, but by the time I was 3 I could scrape my knee, play for a couple more hours and then begin to cry pitifully the moment I opened the door to get my Mother to take care of the boo-boo.

However, I was a piker when it compared to my littlest brother Dave. Sometimes, in the course of my big brother duties, I might have “accidentally” done something to make him cry.

One time Phil, Dave and I were staying overnight with a family friend while our folks were away. I did something to Dave on Saturday morning and he didn’t start crying until Sunday evening when Mother and Dad returned.

Our acting skills were not limited to crying, though. Like most kids, we were not above trying to con our way out of going to school. Usually, this was not because I had not done my homework or studied for a test.

It wasn’t until I got to junior high that there was a cutback in homework. My teachers didn’t cut back giving homework; I just cut back doing it.

Anyway, there were days in elementary school when I was just not “feeling it” when it came to school. The problem was that Mother WAS feeling it and she would have me on the way to school before I knew what was happening.

She could spot a phony illness almost instantaneously no matter how pitiful I pretended to look.

In retrospect, I suppose I gave myself away when I began the conversation with a weak, shaky voice, “I don’t think I can go to school today.” Her usual response was, “I think you can.” And that was it.

I still never gave up trying. I kept thinking how nice it would be to spend the day lying on the sofa wrapped in an afghan, watching “Captain Kangaroo” and then making like a cat and taking multiple naps.

Of course, there were times that Phil, Dave and I did not have to do any acting. We were legitimately sick. Even that was not too bad unless it involved an excessive number of trips to the bathroom.

Upset stomachs brought out either one of two types of soda – Coke or ginger ale. Both were served at room temperature, but soda at any temperature was fine with us.

Far less appealing were what we would call the T ‘N T sick day diet of dry toast and hot tea. We would have preferred HC ‘N D, (hot chocolate and doughnut), but Mother did not and she had the deciding vote.

One time (and that was one time too many), I was given a tablespoon of cod liver oil. I have no idea what it was for and never bothered to find out because I knew I was never going to take a second spoonful.

That was nearly 60 years ago and to this day a chill runs down my spine whenever anybody even mentions Cape Cod.

The most colorful illness that my brothers and I ever contracted was when we all came down with chicken pox at the same time.

The itching nearly drove us crazy and we nearly drove Mom crazy. The only thing that helped was a generous application of calamine lotion. We looked as if we had been in a Pepto-Bismol explosion.

After we recovered from the pox and the pink, Dad took Mother out to paint the town red.