Twelve-year-old Madison Klinger has missed her fair share of school in the past. But entering the 2020 school year, Madison is finding the challenge not what it used to be.
“I sniffled once, and my parents forced me to stay home.” Chatting in her bedroom over Zoom. “I felt fine, but my parents were adamant. I’m like ‘okay,’ you twisted my arm!”
Prior to COVID-19, Madison tried staying one step ahead of her parent’s attempts at forcing her to go to school. “I used to hold a thermometer to the lightbulb, you know, like that really old movie, E.T.” She says, dipping a digital thermometer into a steaming cup. “They caught on quick; I guess that movie was a huge part of their childhood.”
School Boards in Madison’s district gave the option for learning online and in-class. “My parents wanted me back in class.” She says, juggling multiple devices playing various videos and music. “I think they were worried I wouldn’t focus – or use all the bandwidth.”
When asked about any drawbacks for faking sick during a pandemic, Madison could only say, “None really. I can handle waiting in line for five hours. I bring my phone with me and post on Snapchat. I found a new filter that makes my skin look pale and puffs my eyes up!”
Since the start of school in September, Madison has already faked sick for 16 days on 16 attempts, giving her an unheard of 100% success rate. “Last year, I was like hovering around one-third or one-quarter. I dunno, whatever one is higher. I should really download an app to calculate stuff because I’m barely passing math.”
Madison’s new strategy has found unlikely support from school staff. “My teachers don’t suspect a thing. They’re just happy there’s no outbreak in the community.” She says.
As for her parents, “Before this, they’d make sad attempts at relating to me by telling they’re Drake fans.” She says, applying four extra sprits of perfume. “I just tell them my sense of smell is off, and they bolt out of the room. They don’t even tell me how much they hate this perfume anymore.”
Since Madison has more time on her hands, she discovered her entrepreneurial spirit. “Well, my Tik Tok followers are growing by the day.” She says of her newfound fame. “My BFF, Madison J., says I’m a ‘modern day Ferris Bueller’. And I’m like, ‘I don’t know who she is.’”
Madison doesn’t seem phased by health officials adjusting the symptoms list; She has her sights on bigger things: “If things go at this pace, then I can just drop out of school and become a professional YouTuber. That’d be my dream!”
The future looks bright for Madison Klinger.