I took my 6-year-old son to kindergarten the other day, and upon entering the classroom, I noticed his expression was very downcast.
I asked him several times what was wrong. The first few times, he said nothing, until finally he whispered through teary eyes that he wanted "to be home with you today, Mommy."
This was my first day with no sick children at home and no work to go to in almost three weeks, and I really wanted to get some Christmas shopping done, so I hesitated. Finally, though, I decided that he seemed truly upset, not just whiny, but genuinely craving some "mommy time." So, I let him come home with me.
No, he wasn't at all physically sick, but it seemed to me he needed what we adults would call a "personal day." (Hey, it's not cool to be a stressed out 6-year-old!) After all, I thought, its just kindergarten.
I'm guilty of doing this kind of thing on occasion for all of my children. Sometimes, they just need a little one-on-one time with me, and I relish the idea of giving it to them. Many times, we'll end up on some little adventure since we're out together with almost no time limits. We can be creative and find some fun "detours" within our day.
Once, my daughter stayed home for a "personal day" with me, and we wound up climbing the lighthouse in Ponce Inlet, twice! We had been in that area to drop off two injured squirrels at the Marine Science Center (these little critters have a way of finding me), and while playing in the park nearby, we got the idea to tour the lighthouse and the surrounding museums.
What fun we had together; an ordinary day turned into something special, a couple of hours spent together just having fun and enjoying one another's company! I knew Janie felt it was special, too, when I found the saved ticket stub on her dresser at home. She repeatedly thanked me for taking her, and she took every opportunity to bring up our trip to the lighthouse in almost any conversation over the following days. It sounded like something she would always remember.
Cody, my kindergartener, and I found ourselves on our own small adventure the other day as well. We did manage some of the Christmas shopping together and then made a stop at the skate park behind the Port Orange Recreation Center.
After a few minutes there, we made our way over to the baseball fields nearby to throw the football. Cody kept talking about what a beautiful day it was outside, how the weather was so perfect, and how nice it was that just he and I were alone together, walking through the woods, holding hands.
While we were enjoying the lovely morning together, God gave us a precious gift: There in between the trees just few feet from us was a mommy turtle laying her eggs! (Whenever I am privileged to witness any unusual aspect of nature, I always see it as a gift from God to me since He created all of nature for us to enjoy).
We discovered the baseball field covered with wet, muddy, clay, and we looked at one another with the very same idea. For the next 45 minutes, we played in the muddiness making cups, balls and even "snowmen," which I brought home and baked, and then raced barefooted around the bases, leaving deep footprints in the wet clay.
The next day, of course Cody had to go back to school, but the two of us will always remember that special day we shared.
Sure, it's possible to do a fun day with your child on the weekend, but skipping school makes it extra fun and special. As parents, we need to remember that once in a while, our kids need a little break from the routine, too. As they grow into teenagers, they will have some very emotional days when it might just be best to let them stay home once in a while.
Kids need to know that we care and that we understand how they're feeling. I hope you are lenient enough to let one of these fun days off happen for your kids, and I hope you use that opportunity to share a special time with them by taking them out to breakfast, going for a hike, or just hanging out together.
Ruthie Davidson is a mother of four children, ages 5 to 10. She lives in South Daytona and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.