Paul kicked the winning goal! He was the hero! The crowd goes wild, “Pa-ul! Pa-ul! Pa-ul! Paul?” Uh-oh. His Kindergarten teacher had caught him dreaming again. He liked school, but there was so much sitting and working. He opened his blue eyes and looked at his dumb math paper again.
Just as he honed his attention, a bird started to sing outside Paul’s classroom window. Paul thought about the 27 things he could be doing outside with that bird, instead of being stuck inside with math right this very minute.
“Think, think think. Aha!” His best friend, Jocelyn, had been really sick yesterday and had gone home. He was sad to see Jocelyn sick, but thought she was very lucky to get out of school.
“Maybe if I tell the teacher I’m sick, I can go home?” he wondered. As the bird continued to cheer him on, he staggered over to his teacher.
“Mrs. Scott? Can I call my mom? My tummy hurts; really bad. I need to go home.” He peeked up at his teacher, and she looked back at him.
“Are you really sick Paul? Are you telling the truth?” she wanted to know.
Paul thought and thought. “Yes, Mrs. Scott, I really am.” So, off to the office he hiked to call his mom.
While Paul sat in the office waiting for his mom, he planned out the rest of his night. Digging for buried treasure, conquering a ship full of pirates, practicing his goal kicks; yes, that would be a good afternoon.
His mom strode into the office, worry on her face. “Paul, honey, are you all right?” she asked.
Putting on his best sick face, he cried, “I’m very sick mom, and my tummy hurts. I need to go home, please?”
After the short ride home, she marched him into the house and took his temperature. Frowning, she mumbled something that Paul didn’t understand.
Paul hopped off the kitchen counter and zoomed over to the back door. “Mom? Do you think it would be all right if I went outside? I promise to stay in the backyard.” Paul knew he always had to stay where his mom could see him.
Frowning again, his mom looked at him. “Paul? You don’t look sick. You don’t feel sick. Are you really sick?”
“Uh-oh,” thought Paul, “I think she knows.” He coughed into his hand a few times.
“Paul, you didn’t have a cough before. You need to tell me the truth.” She kneeled down on the cold tiles next to him.
Paul heard the warning in her voice. “Well, I really like school, mom, I do! But it’s such a nice day, and Jocelyn wasn’t there, and math, mom….I don’t like math.”
She stood up and folded her arms. His mom and dad had talked to him many times about right and wrong. Telling a lie was definitely wrong. He knew that for sure. “I’m sorry mom,” Paul said, hanging his head down low. He ran past the kitchen table and hugged his mom’s legs.“I won’t do it again.”
“No, you won’t,” she agreed, looking into his eyes with a sad face. “We have to go tell your teacher the truth. You also need to finish school today.”
Paul knew he was in trouble now. He had to go tell his teacher the truth!
As they walked down the hall at school, Paul tried to figure out the best way to talk to his teacher. As he walked in, he was glad to see that everyone was at recess. He would only have to confess to his teacher, not anyone else.
“Paul? What are you doing here? I thought you were sick!” His teacher exclaimed.
“I’m sorry Mrs. Scott; I told you a lie. I didn’t want to do math and I was lonely without Jocelyn here, so I said I was sick so I could go home.” Paul said as he looked down at the floor.
“That was wrong Paul, and I really want you here at school. It’s important for you to learn math, so you can get smarter and smarter. I know we can do it together!” she said, as she knelt down in front of him.
Paul agreed to try, so Mrs. Scott let him run out to recess for a few minutes. He worked like a busy beaver the rest of the week. With his best friend Jocelyn back at school, it was easier to work. Even math didn’t seem so bad.
But on Monday…disaster! He found out he was going to have a test on Friday on fractions, which just didn’t make any sense. Why would you want to split your cookie with anyone? Even though he did all his homework, and his mom, dad, teacher, and Jocelyn said he would do great, he wasn’t so sure.
Friday morning Paul couldn’t make himself get out of bed. When his mom finally dragged the covers off of him, he moved slower than a snail getting dressed, brushing his teeth and combing his hair. When he had five minutes to be out the door to the bus, his mom hollered for him to come down. “Are you sick little guy? How come it took you so long to get ready today?”
“Yes!” thought Paul. “If I’m sick, I can stay home and no math test!” Out loud he mumbled, “I don’t feel very good mom, I guess I better stay home.”
His mom leaned down and looked into his eyes. Her blue eyes were very serious. “Now Paul, are you telling the truth? Are you really sick or are you just nervous about your math test?” Paul thought long and hard. On one hand, he really didn’t want to take the test. On the other hand, he knew that if he lied again, he would lose his TV, video game, and computer privileges. In the end, telling the truth won.
“Mom, I just didn’t want to take the test. I’m not really sick. Can’t I stay home anyway?” If he was telling the truth, his mom might just let him stay home just this once.
Two minutes later, he was on his regular seat on the bus, feeling pretty sad. When class started, his teacher announced that instead of taking the test, they were going to have a special game. The game would show her what they had learned about fractions. “Yes!” cried Paul as he jumped out of his seat. He was able to answer all the questions, and he scored the winning point for his team!
After his class came back from lunch, Paul started to feel bad. It was worse than bad. It was positively yucky. He felt like there were drums pounding in his head, and marshmallows stuck up his nose. During reading time, he just put his head down on his desk. When his teacher came over to see why he wasn’t reading, he whispered, “I am sick Mrs. Scott. I can’t read.”
She peeked at the clock. “It’s only ten more minutes until recess. Can you read until then?” Paul nodded and tried to read his favorite book, Pirates Play Ping Pong, but he couldn’t even laugh when Peg Leg Pete tried to teach his parrot to play ping pong. Recess finally came, in what felt like seven hours.
As everyone spilled out the door, Mrs. Scott noticed Paul was not running his usual cheetah speed out the door. “Are you really not feeling well Paul? I didn’t believe you since you didn’t tell the truth last time.” she confessed.
Hiking once again to the office, he called his mom. “Mom, I’m really sick, will you come get me?” Silence. “Mom? Are you there?”
“I’m here, Paul. Are you really sick? You know what will happen if you lie again, right?” mom warned.
Paul understood now how important it was to tell the truth. If he had told the truth all along, he would be home in bed by now with some good medicine to help him feel better. After a few more minutes of telling his mom how sick he really was, she finally decided to come get him.
After Paul slurped down some chicken noodle soup, his mom helped him climb into bed. “I’m sorry you are sick Paul, but I hope you learned that telling the truth is so important.”
As he drifted off to dreamland, Paul muttered, “I won’t forget,” and he really meant it.