Can We Talk?

Am I Being a Bad Mother By Making My Kids Go to School Every Day?

Link to video. [Watch first]

First, let me just say that I would never presume to know what is best for YOU or YOUR children. Everyone is different – every family has different needs. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. So there is honestly no judgment from my end. I mean, sure, I have opinions and I may disagree with you, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I think, it’s YOUR life and YOUR decision.

With that said, I don’t necessarily agree with parents who take their kids out of school for family vacations or some other “fluffy” excuse – and by fluffy I mean “fun” activities of some sort (educational or not). Deaths in the family and other such emergencies are completely different and often times unavoidable.

I think parents who take a laissez faire attitude toward school attendance are honestly sending the wrong message. To me, and this is what I teach my sons, school is of the utmost importance right now – it’s their job. I fully expect them to give 110% to their studies and to do the best they can possibly do (and I’ve learned, in just the past several years, that that doesn’t necessarily mean straight “A’s”).

When my children are feeling under the weather, they go to school. The only way I will allow them to skip out of school is if they have a fever or are throwing their guts up. And I know that makes me sound mean, and I often times FEEL mean for enforcing that rule, but let’s be realistic here, life simply doesn’t stop because you have the sniffles. Life can’t be put on hold because you have a headache and I think it’s crucial that I teach my boys that there will be days you feel less than 100% and guess what, you still have to go to work. You still have obligations and duties that must be met and taken care of. I hope, by being strict about this rule that they condition themselves to trudge through those days and develop a strong work ethic.

This is important to me because I used to be a manager and I had to deal with the people who consistently called in “sick” (and they may well might have been, but I’m betting that they weren’t all the time) and who were unreliable. It was incredibly annoying and inconvenient, not to mention unfair to the people who pulled the extra weight. People who routinely take days off because they have a minor illness (like a headache or cramps) or who think they are somehow entitled to an extra day off for whatever reason, rarely succeed in life because they think that the world revolves around them and their needs.

Um, no.

HOWEVER, however … I agonize over this issue. I tear myself up whenever I make them go to school when I know they’re feeling bad. I hate myself for being so militant when it comes to their attendance. For some reason, I just go nuts at the thought of them missing school and if you want the God’s honest truth, I’m not quite sure why I’m like that.

Perhaps I’m afraid they will fall behind and give up as opposed to working that much harder to get caught back up. Perhaps I’m afraid they will break their momentum and never really find their stride again. They’re both really good students – I think I’m loathe to rock the boat. Everything is going so well at this point …

But being too militant is not a good idea, either. Since they are such great students, don’t they deserve a break once in a while?

I hadn’t really thought about the benefits of allowing the kids to stay home say, on their birthdays, or to take some time off for a family vacation, but after watching this video and reading some of the comments, I can see the attraction. We have certainly had some GREAT family vacations and I know that the boys will remember playing “Settlers of Catan” with me and Kevin because we have truly had some great laughs from that game.

So why wouldn’t I want to do something like that more often? Why am I so hard-nosed when it comes to them going to school?

Now granted, I’ve allowed them to take the rest of the day off after they got their braces put on – I’m not cruel.

But I am hard. And I’m strict. And though I think that’s a good thing, that it teaches them some valuable lessons, I also think I could relax my choke hold a bit and allow them to have fun once in a while.

I really like the idea of allowing the kids to take off on their birthdays. Jazz’s birthday always falls on spring break (except for last year for some reason), so he’s always off on his birthday.

But Dude nearly always has to go to school on his birthday and you know what? Why not allow the kid to take his birthday off this year? He’ll be 18, that’s definitely a reason to celebrate, right? I mean, what’s the big deal? It’s only one day.

BUT – if he misses his birthday, he’ll ruin his perfect attendance record. Yes, as of now, Dude has not missed one day of high school (any absences have always been excused). If he can continue this streak, he’ll be recognized at graduation and given an award.

And I’m insanely proud of that accomplishment – though I often wonder if I’m more proud of it for him or for me. I skipped a lot of school when I was a senior (no reason, other than I was being a brat), and I think that part of me wants to make up for that through Dude.

Yes. I realize that’s not fair to Dude.

But another big part of me is proud of that because I think it sends a message, overall. That I thought it was important enough to make sure my kid made it to school every day and by doing that, I’m teaching him so many important life lessons. Or am I more concerned at being seen as “superior” in front of other parents?

And I realize his perfect attendance is no guarantee that he’ll be this super employee – he might be really lousy as a rebellious way to get back at me; I hope not, but I know it could happen.

I don’t know. I guess I always looked at the weekends as the boys’ days off and why would they need a day off during the week? They had two days off to goof around and be lazy. I guess I’ve never seen the need to take a day off during the week. They’re at school for six hours, not ten. And let’s not forget all of these piddly government holidays and breaks. To me, it just didn’t make sense for them to take off additional days.

Am I missing something?

I honestly struggle with this issue. And it’s not JUST this issue, it’s the whole “am I being too strict” issue. I’m pretty hard on my boys, especially when it comes to education and I suppose that’s because I desperately want them to succeed in life. Even though I realize that having a good education is no guarantee that that will happen, I think it’s an important leg up, so to speak.

But when I read the comments on this video, I realized that making those memories, that learning outside the classroom, is equally, if not MORE, important.

I don’t know. Just when I’m feeling like I have this whole motherhood gig “balanced” and I’m doing an okay job, I see videos (and read comments) about issues like this, and I wonder just how “well” I’m doing, you know?

What do you think – is it okay to allow kids to miss school occasionally for vacations, field trips or mental health days?

Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: Alone Once Again


Fiction under 250 words.


“Mom! I need a washcloth!”

“Mommy, I need help with a word!”

“I can’t believe you washed my favorite t-shirt, mother. Now it’s too small!”

Faye sighed and dropped her head in her hands. She was so tired. She had just finished working a 50-hour workweek and she wasn’t sure she had the mental energy to deal with her three demanding children.

Not now. Perhaps not ever.

She cringed as she heard her oldest daughter bicker with her middle son. Standing, she walked to the door and quietly closed it with a decisive snap. She needed a few minutes to recharge her batteries.

She leaned against the door and tightly closed her eyes.

“Six months, eight days and,” she cracked her eyes open to glance at the clock, “twelve hours,” she murmured softly as her gaze shifted to the framed picture of a handsome man in Marine uniform. “I don’t think I can do this without you,” she whispered.

She didn’t have time to cry. She didn’t want to cry. She needed to cry.

Faye cleared her throat to regain equilibrium and walked over to the laundry basket. Memories of Charlie began a sneak attack on her senses, but she abruptly stopped that train of thought and gave herself a little mental shake.

Picking up the laundry basket, she glanced out of the window to see her elderly neighbors, walking down the street, hand-in-hand. They looked relaxed and happy.

They were together.

Dropping the laundry basket, she burst into tears.


Want to play? Let’s concentrate on the emotion “grief” this week.

All you have to do is write 250 words (no MORE) about any scene you heard, witnessed or imagined. You can either post your own flash fiction on your blog, or post it in the comment section!

Either way – do it now. Don’t wait. Don’t make excuses.