Playing Hookey

Have you ever used one of your sick days just to take a day off? I have. I have had days where I just hit my wall and couldn’t move anymore. I’m pretty sure, at one point or another, your brain has just screamed “ENOUGH!” and, no matter what needs to be done, you have to take the day to recover from the week/month/year of stress/headaches/fatigue. This happens to children too.
With the end of the second term of school, report cards due home next week, provincial assessments for literacy and math coming up, unit changes in all subjects, and a crazy (for the next two months) home schedule, L is really starting to feel pressured. Yesterday he snapped. He had a bad day at school and we spent quite a bit of time in the office. It was not fun.
In hindsight, I should have seen this coming. I knew the stress was building, I was just hoping to catch it before it popped. I missed.
Every school year I grant each of the boys one (and only one) “free day”. This is simply a day to decompress. There are rules attached to it, but for the most part, it is just as it sounds, a free day. The rules are as follows:

1) Free days CANNOT be bragged about. Your friends, classmates, teachers, etc do NOT need to know that you got a day off “just because”. What we do on free days is between us and does not need to be shared with anyone. (Please, if you are a parent at our school, keep this between us)

2) Your free day must be taken on a day when Mom has a shorter shift. This means no Wednesday or Thursday free days.

3) You cannot take your free days together. One free day for L, one free day for T.

4) A free day means you don’t have to go to school. It does not mean that you are exempt from reading for the day or any outstanding homework assignments. You still have chores too.

5) You can’t take your free day on a test day, project presentation day, or the day your (so far) uncompleted homework is due.

6) You will be expected to accompany me on any errands that need to be done that day.

Lil Mr spends most days with me, so I recommend they pick a day lil Mr won’t be here for their free day. How much fun is a free day really if you have a three year old running around? This also gives me a chance, once a year each, to have a day that is specifically, exclusively for one-on-one time.
This year, I would say we did pretty well. It is April, 7 months into the school year. Though I don’t remember either of them cashing in their free day before. I also think T is just asking for his because L has chosen a date for his.
I believe by giving my boys this one free day, I am giving them the option to decompress without encouraging them to go behind my back later in life. If your parents gave you a chance to play hookey, wouldn’t you feel like you could tell them just about anything?
I have a feeling that I will get a few comments about how horrible it is that I let my kids play hookey, how this will lead to truancy later, how I am teaching my kids that it’s okay to just not go to school, etc. That doesn’t bother me. I know my kids, I know the discussions we’ve had about free days, I know that this is what works for us. If it does lead to problems later? We’ll talk about it (like any other problems we will encounter) when it is necessary to.
Today, right now, we are doing what it takes to get us through today/this week/this month/this year. Tomorrow we will deal with when we get there. We are looking forward to this year’s free days though!

No matter how dark the day, the sun is always shining somewhere!

Jules

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6 Responses to Playing Hookey

  1. I did the exact same thing with my children as they were going through school. Great post!

    • The J85 says:

      Thank you! It’s also great to know I’m not the only one who has done this!

      • My kids LOVED it! They knew it was “their” special day. My daughter started called it her girl time with me. She’s 23 now with two daughters and we all had girl time today. It’s those special memories that make life worth living.

  2. monkiss says:

    I think this is a good idea. I might do it with my kids, when I have them lol.
    We take mental health days as adults and as a bullied child, man, one day off to read and be home would’ve been awesome. I gladly woulda stood in line at the bank/the grocery store hell, the gynecologist to be off school!

    • The J85 says:

      I do have to say, he actually isn’t bullied. Our school is really good at cracking down on that. His major stress at school is actually that others ask him for help learning the material (quite often). He is still trying to learn the balance between what he can do to help others without it damaging his work. Your last line was great! I actually LOL’d!

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