Guest blogger Tina: There are four Mondays left until summer break -- not counting Memorial Day, of course. Twenty-five days left until sweet freedom. I know this not because my kids are counting down, but because I am.
I'm looking forward to letting the sun wake us up instead of the alarm clock, to spending our days how we want and to enjoying long and lazy evenings without the stress of the homework/dinner/bath/bed routine -- all crammed in before 8 PM.
My kids work hard -- really hard. School is a lot tougher than it was when we were kids, and our school has an especially stringent curriculum. Not only that, but I've got two hardworking kids who put in their best efforts most days of the week.
They get tired. I get tired. And that's why I'm all for them playing hooky every now and then. Shh ... don't tell their teacher.
As a teacher and a parent, I know how important school is. And I'm respectful of the fact that student absences are inconvenient for their teacher. But I also think there's value in creating memories outside of school, and family time can't always wait until the weekend.
Take this winter: In February, we jumped at a great deal on a four-day weekend in a nearby big city. Though my older kid's teacher tried to make me feel guilty for not scheduling it during a school vacation, I refused to apologize. Not only did we spend four days exploring together as a family, but my kids learned all kinds of real-world lessons.
But vacations aren't playing hooky. I'm talking about turning off the alarm clock and letting them sleep, saying, "Nope, you don't have to go to school today! Let's find something fun to do." I'd love to make it a family policy that four days a year -- once a quarter -- they could decide to do just that. But there's this little thing called "honesty" that gets in the way.
When they were younger, it was easy. "No school for you today!" I'd say when I'd see them getting overtired or stressed, or when there was an extra-special event happening. But now that my firstborn is older, I can't pull that anymore. She knows she's supposed to be in school, and I'm just not comfortable with the idea of calling her in sick and asking her to lie to her teacher (who I know will ask). While I'm all for my kids taking a mental-health day, what kind of mixed message would that send? It's not OK to lie, except to your teacher? Even Ferris Bueller's mom didn't go that far.
Non-illness-related absences are highly frowned upon at their school, though, and make-up work for these kinds of days is done upon return, during recess -- not as homework. So that leaves this laid-back mom without a lot of choice: Honesty is the best policy, but it means missing your one recess the day you get back.
Sometimes, it's worth it. Far-flung family in town for just a few days? I'll pull them out of school and suffer the guilt trip. A community event that celebrates our heritage? No school for you -- but plenty of outside playtime when you get home, to make up for the recess you'll miss tomorrow.
But when I just think they need a little downtime to recharge, I confess, I tell a little white lie: "My, you seem kind of stuffy and tired today. I think you might be coming down with something. I'll call you in tomorrow." And then they spend their day getting reacquainted with the toys they never have time to play with, or we curl up on the couch and watch movies in our pajamas.
Do you ever spring your student from school for a free day off? Or do you think that sends the wrong message to kids?