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Neusea, a pounding headache and having problems with co-ordination are all legitimate excuses for not going to school.
But having all three did not stop Sam Stainer heading back to St Clair School yesterday for the first time in months.
The enthusiastic pupil was raring to go, having been absent after an orange-sized tumour was found on his brain.
In December, surgeons at Christchurch Hospital spent seven hours removing the benign tumour from his cerebellum - a region of the brain at the base of the skull that is important for its role in motor control.
Fortunately, cerebellar damage does not cause paralysis, but it can produce disorders in fine movement, equilibrium, posture and motor learning.
For Sam, it has left him with nausea and headaches and, from time to time, he bumps into things because of a loss of co-ordination.
Despite feeling unwell, Sam has been extremely excited for the past couple of weeks about going back to school to see his friends, and yesterday his teachers said he had fitted back in to school life like he had never been away.
His mother, Sandra Stainer, said Sam had good and bad days since the surgery, but doctors had been impressed with his recovery.
She believed going back to school for an hour a day would be good for him.
''He's not the same little boy we had before. He used to be quite placid - now he has mood swings. But it's amazing how well he is recovering.
''He's been excited about going back to school. It's going to be great for him to get some normality back in his life after the trauma he's suffered. It's been such an emotional rollercoaster - it still is.''
Miss Stainer said it was hoped Sam's time at school could be increased over the coming months as his physical and mental strength improved. She was extremely grateful for the support the family had received from the community during the past few months.
Sadly, the journey for Sam is not over yet.
Miss Stainer said it was believed surgeons might not have been able to remove all the tumour during his surgery and he would have another MRI scan in a couple of months to check.
The family would cross whatever bridge the scan threw up, when the results arrived.