Playing Hooky

Moms should let their children skip school to have fun.

Those who know me might be aghast at this statement. After all, skipping school sends the wrong message. I am a mother who preaches (maybe too often) the importance of hard work and staying focused. It’s not the grade you get, I tell my children, but the time and effort you put into doing your best. And that means going to school — even when you don’t want to. And that means doing your homework (what is this homework pass thing?). And that means no breaks — unless they are state or school mandated.

School is important. … Confidence and security are more important.

And that’s why I let my two oldest children skip school last Friday. And I took a personal day from work.

On Wednesday morning, my son, daughter and I spent 15 minutes listing the endless possibilities of things we could do together: make sushi, paint pottery, go bike riding, watch a movie, color, play Life or Monopoly. The list reached two dozen items before we determined that we would need Thursday night to prioritize and set our schedule.

The day would have to include my carpool drives and one hour in the morning and one in the afternoon for content editing; I couldn’t release all of my responsibilities. Still, a hearty breakfast of homemade chocolate chip waffles doused with syrup wasn’t out of the question.

But to be honest, the fact that we would walk to 7-Eleven for Slurpees was not nearly as important as the fact that we were walking together. Our day was about fun, of course, but it more about family.

Shlomo and Netanya have been begging for this day for months. We have Shabbat, but the little ones are there, and our board games are interrupted with nursing breaks and potty runs. We have Sunday, but Shlomo has school in the morning, and there are countless errands and chores to do then, too. Our lives are busy — sometimes too busy to enjoy and appreciate one another. And we need that love to get through those busy days.

Shlomo and Netanya will focus better in school if they feel confident and secure at home. They’ll also get better grades if they try because they like school and not because their mother is a drill sergeant.

A lot of learning happens outside the classroom, and we Googled all sorts of topics on our Friday, from the difference between a dolphin and a porpoise to how to differentiate between a gorilla and an ape — all questions my son had been asking me for days. We also people watched and talked about diversity, respect and God.

I often get comments such as, “How do you do it?” Or, “You have so much energy! What’s your secret?”

Well, here’s one: I go and go and go and go. But I also remember to stop.

When I see that the gas light is on, that the tank is dangerously close to empty, I put on the brakes and stop to refill … and to add some water, too. It ensures I never overheat.

Moreover, I know that a rainbow-colored manicure is always on my daughter’s wish list. And who doesn’t want a set of flashy nails and a hand massage?

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