Yesterday at the Cook Elementary end-of-year awards assembly, over 30 children were recognized for having 100% attendance during the year.
My children were not among the group.
Not by a long shot.
I keep my kids home is they have a cough, sniffle, headache, cold, clear runny nose, green runny nose, roaring fever, tepid fever- call me neurotic, but I've been around the block. I know how fast the first drip of a runny nose can turn into a full blown cold and flu epidemic. One wet cough from a single student on my piano keys and I can time the total infestation almost to the minute. It invariably puts the entire house in quarantine for a week.
Keeping my kids home when they are ill is the noblest reason (oh who am I kidding? It's the ony noble reason) behind their absences. There are plenty of other frivolous reasons that they miss school. Dentist appointment scheduled in the morning? Well, the Novocaine won't wear off for an hour at least. No point going back to school, right? PMS-induced craziness flaring? You definitely need a day away from the unsuspecting and innocent (for their own safety of course). Better yet, how about some retail therapy??? Food therapy????
Needless to say, I have no problem checking my kids out of school for necessity or just for fun.
The irony of my mentality is that I was that kid that got the 100% attendance award every year. I was terrified of missing school. While all my friends were sluffing PE and Home Ec, I attended dutifully, certain that if I missed a single timed mile run or couldn't bake a perfect tuna casserole I would never get into college. Even as early as the first grade I didn't want to miss school. I remember standing at the front window screaming at my mom for not letting me get on the bus, all the while scratching at the chicken pox covering my entire body.
But then I went to college.
All those years of strict attendance and study habits had taken their toll. Yes, I had my hard-earned academic scholarship but I was completely burned out. I hated school. Gone was my single-minded and obsessive focus; college was nothing more than a very expensive means to an end. It wasn't until I got married that my passion and drive for education return. I mostly attribute that change to a desire to not be a poor student living in on-campus married housing for the rest of my life, but it also helped that The King and I were both completely committed to graduating together (and we did in May of 2000. I was 4 months pregnant with Fox and big as a whale. The pictures are classic Utah).
So I guess I've come full circle, from frantic obsession to nonchalance to pure enjoyment of education. If I could spend the rest of my life in college, completing degree after degree I would. I can think of 10 areas off the top of my head I'd love to study right at this moment (interior design, landscape design, art history, social work, psychology, European history, business administration, computer science, web design......) Instead, I'll probably just get my Masters after the MC is in school (2 years and 8 months to go, but who is counting?). But I realizes something very important from my own journey through elementary, secondary and collegiate education. Life can't be all work and seriousness- you need to have fun along the way. It's okay to take a day off for R&R, or to get your nails done and have lunch with mom. School will still be there the next day. And despite what they may say, you can flunk gym and still get into college.
I think it's a great achievement for the 30 or more children who received the attendance award yesterday. I just don't feel an iota of guilt that TQ and Fox didn't.
Sadly, one young boy out of the entire group called was unable to receive his certificate from the principal at the assembly. Apparently on that day, of all days, he was absent.