It’s me. Hi… I’m the problem, it’s me.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know by now that our family doesn’t incentivize perfect attendance nor do we acknowledge the number of absences documented on a report card. Instead, we celebrate when our kids vocalize their need for a break, when they retreat into their spaces to decompress, and when they ask for opportunities for the sunshine to hit their faces.
Mama didn’t raise no fool.
One of my most vivid high school memories was going to my mama, doubled over in that monthly pain we all know and love to hate, struggling to find the physical and mental energy to get ready for school. I was a straight-A student, played multiple varsity sports, was a member of the National Honor Society, was captain of the FCA, held down a part-time job, and had never broken curfew or snuck out of my window. I simply didn’t have the emotional capacity to deal with the expectations of the day… the unspoken pressure of “suck it up and show up” mentality that society was already speaking over me at 16 years old. While my mama and I didn’t see a lot of things eye-to-eye, she was and continues to be a voice that speaks against the grain. She encouraged me the same way I now encourage mine… just skip school today.
Go back to bed, love.
What if… instead of a perfect attendance award, we recognize kids by their kindness, by their acts of service, and by their integrity and humanity? What if we didn’t raise our kids to believe there is a reward for sacrificing their physical and mental health by never taking a day to rest and recover? To show up and shut up? Not me, and most definitely not mine.
The data doesn’t lie.
Mental health crises are on the rise. From March 2020 to October 2020, mental health–related emergency department visits increased by 24% for children ages 5 to 11 and by 31% for those ages 12 to 17 compared with 2019 emergency department visits, according to CDC data. With a recommended ratio of one school psychologist per 500 students (by the National Association of School Psychologists) and the current ratio of one per 1,211 students school is not exactly a viable space for addressing mental health needs.
Soooo… with that information, we choose to play hooky and skip school. We choose to stay in bed a little longer and eat a little slower. We choose to binge-watch our favorite Netflix series, picnic at the beach, and/or load up for the zoo. We choose to pack our bags and leave a couple of days early for birthdays, holidays, and family time. We choose peace.
There will be game nights, lazy days, and a little less movement with a lot more intention. We will listen to our bodies, honoring the work it does for us daily. Allow our minds to rest and hearts to heal, because let’s be real, the world can be a cruel place and we all need a safe space to retreat.
I agree 10000%. The weird perfect attendance model ignores the reality of what it means to be human. Humans have off days, stressful events, or just the need to recharge. My parents understood that, and I‘be done the same with my kids.