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A Twenty-Dollar Lollipop

Maddie woke up yesterday morning with a
sore throat. No big deal, except that there’d been rumors of
strep running through her preschool, and we’re having our big
Christmas party here on Saturday. So it’d probably be better
if we weren’t all contagious. I usually leave these things to
develop or go away on their own, but with those extenuating
circumstances weighing on my mind, I mentioned we might need to go
get a strep test for her.

“If I get a strep swab, will I get a lollipop?” Maddie

“Yes, of course, hon,” I answered absentmindedly,
knowing how icky those strep swabs are.

I had to make a judgment call, and
watching Maddie drag herself through the morning I decided to call
the doc and hold off on school. As she ate breakfast Maddie seemed
to perk up, but I figured better safe than sorry and kept the

“Yeah, a strep swab!” Maddie sang as she climbed
willingly up on the doctor’s table. The nurse looked at me,
and the penny dropped. My child was excited at the promise of the
lollipop, which was why she came so willingly to the doctor. I felt
like I’d made a rookie mistake and knew deep down she
wasn’t sick, which was confirmed ten minutes later when the
doctor came in the room with the negative results.

“Yes, we see a fair amount of this,” she said
cheerfully. “This probably won’t be the last time you
pay twenty bucks for a lollipop.”


Let me be clear here – Maddie’s throat did hurt, and
she was dragging. I do think she’s fighting a cold, as we all
are, and wasn’t lying or manipulating to get a lollipop
– she’s not that kind of kid. But I think it became
clear as the morning went on that her throat didn’t hurt any
more and she didn’t see any need to tell her mom about it,
lest we cancel the appointment and forfeit the prize.

Half an hour later we were dropping her off at school, and as I
watched her skip happily into her classroom, strawberry lollipop
stickiness rimming her mouth, I didn’t have the heart to be
mad at her.

But I will know better next time.


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