Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: Last Monday morning, my 3-year-old woke up in a mood. He didn't want to go to preschool, but I sent him anyway. I had a pressing deadline and he needed to go to school. He perked up in about an hour, but later told the teacher that he'd really just wanted to stay in bed and sleep all day. Perhaps it should have been a mental health day.
There are times when I do indulge him. He's only 3. And on days when I can, we turn a cranky Wednesday into a mellow mommy-son day at home. I figure there are only so many years left that we can get away with this without having to worry about missed classwork and school attendance -- and there will only be so many years when my work schedule is flexible enough to allow for it.
However, I often wonder how I'll handle mental health days when there are consequences to missed school days. Lisa Belkin of the New York Times' Motherlode blog reflected on this very question a few weeks back. Another mom, Jody Becker, had decided to keep her 7-year-old home the Monday after Halloween because her daughter had complained that she simply didn't feel well. She had no other symptoms, but spent the day curled up on the sofa reading a book.
When I was a kid, my mom trusted our word about whether or not we were well enough to go to school. If I told her I didn't feel well, despite the lack of a fever, she let me stay home. I don't remember ever abusing the privilege. Instead, it was a lesson that has served me well. As an adult, I've rarely taken a mental health day from work. However, the few times I have -- I can probably count them on one hand -- were much-needed and served me well.
As a parent, I hope to instill a similar value in my son. I want him to learn to trust his own body and know when he needs to slow down. At the same time, I want him to understand that at times we have to do one thing -- like go to work or school -- when we'd rather be doing another.
Moms, how do you handle your kids' mental health days? Do you ever indulge their need to stay home, or are school days always school days?