“It almost feels like spring today,” she commented as we stood next to our matching minivans outside the elementary school, waiting for our kindergarteners.
“Yeah, but it’s supposed to snow again on Thursday.”
“That’s what it looks like,” she sighed.
Lilah was laughing maniacally and twirling around, reveling in the 47 degree weather. Benjamin, on the other hand, was glowering from his carseat, still wearing a heavy winter parka and mumbling that he wasn’t getting out of the car because it was too cold. If that child had his druthers, he’d stay in the house till May.
“I guess we can kiss the rest of April break goodbye,” I said.
“They wouldn’t do that,” she replied. “I don’t think they’d touch break.”
“They’ve already taken away two days,” I told her. “I just checked this morning. There’s school on that Thursday and Friday… No, Lilah. Stay on the sidewalk.” I turned back to the other mom. “And we were supposed to go to DC. Lilah! No road!”
“Just pull him out of school,” she replied. “It’s just kindergarten.”
Now, I like this woman a lot, so I dropped the subject. Because on this one, we were definitely not going to see eye to eye.
It’s just kindergarten, the conventional wisdom goes. What’s the harm in missing a few days? It’s just kindergarten. Or first grade. Or eighth grade. Or sophomore year.
Whereas once upon a time no one would ever suggest pulling a kid out of school, nowadays our unwillingness to do so makes us suspect. Clearly, if we weren’t so competitive or uptight, we’d realize that a few days of school just doesn’t matter. Good parents want well-rounded children. Crappy parents take themselves so seriously that they think second grade is more important than a trip to Hawaii.
I’m calling bullshit on this one. School is the most important thing our kids do. It is more important than football practice, skiing, or Disneyworld. It is their job. Nothing else takes priority, with the possible exception of visiting elderly relatives.
We do not pull our kids out of school.
We want our children to know we value education and are committed to their schooling. We send that message by arriving on time, homework completed, after having eaten a good breakfast. We do not remove the kids early unless there is a damned good reason. As of yet, we’ve only twice had such a reason. A month ago, when it was snowing hard and the school district did not call a late start, I brought Zach in once the snow let up a little and I felt safe to drive. And, this week I picked up Benjamin from preschool ten minutes early so he could see his father before he left for an eight-day business trip. Other than that, we don’t keep them home, bring them late, or take them early.
If that makes us old-fashioned fuddy-duddies, so be it. If that makes us uptight, controlling assholes, count us in. We do not pull our kids out of school.
Now I know there are plenty of people who homeschool, and more power to them. Their job is even tougher than ours, because they have to show their commitment to education not just by getting the kids there, ready to learn, every day, but by then teaching them all fucking day long. Hats off and more power to them, because if I did that I’d be poking myself in the eyeballs with knitting needles after twenty minutes. Which, considering I’d have to drive at least five minutes to buy knitting needles first, really tells you something.
Those of us who take the easy route and ship our kids out for someone else to educate, however, owe it to the teachers to be behind them 100%. Not 99%. Not when we don’t have something else going on. Not when the mood strikes us. Not when Benjamin thinks it’s too cold to go out, which is whenever it’s below 50. Every day, in every way, it is our job to support the teachers who are there, working their asses off to teach our children.
To some, it’s just kindergarten. To me, it’s the best time to teach our kids that school comes first. To the teachers, it’s what they do all day. And I’ll be damned if I am going to denigrate that.