Let’s start with this: I never let my children miss school. Well, almost never. If they seem truly ill I will acquiesce, but I am proud to report that my children have been healthy all winter and have missed barely a day of school this entire year. Spring’s just around the corner, so I’m thinking we’re gonna escape this academic year unscathed. (And yes, I know by writing that I just jinxed myself. Come on in, strep.) So when my mom came home from Utah last night with my two nephews in tow–nephews whom my own children worship and haven’t seen in a year–I decided to throw off my shackles of reserve and let my elementary kiddos miss a day of school for no other reason than to play. Just this once.*
Call it indifference to intellectual development or a healthy perspective on childhood; either way, I was rather proud of my uncharacteristic spontaneity. After all, in the miniature social circle of a child, what’s better than a cousin? Remember how you felt about your own cousins when you were little? A cousin is closer than a friend, but cooler than a sibling. When your friends bore you, your siblings ignore you, your parents annoy you and you’re too young to move out, what’s better than a cousin? Nothing, that’s what. And since my children will see these cousins exactly twice this year (once again this summer), I triumphantly decided to let them skip a day of school to play with their cousins unbridled. Who could blame me? I gave them the news last night and enjoyed their shower of gratitude for at least five seconds before they ran off to play with their cousins again.
So late this morning I was sorting through a stack of mail and school papers, feeling uncharacteristically good about my decision to let them be kids for a day. I’m progressing, I thought to myself. I can finally make a decision and not beat myself up about it later. You see, the Old Me would have woken up this morning riddled with guilt about allowing my kids to play hooky for a day. Not the New Me, though. No way. The decision was made and I’d moved on. I continued sorting and shuffling with the smug satisfaction usually enjoyed only by my smug husband, who never wastes a minute doubting his own decisions. (It so bugs.) My mind bent lazily around these pleasant thoughts when I came across a small white flyer from the elementary school that had apparently been sent home in my son’s backpack the day before. My breath caught in my throat as I read the large black type:
Just a reminder!
Class Pictures Tomorrow!
Wednesday, March 7, 2012.
My grin collapsed into a grimace as I held the paper in my wilting hands. Could it be? Had my reckless parenting really just erased my two angels from the immortality of their 1st and 5th grade class pictures? It had, my faithfuls…it had. Because of my dogged determination to make bad decisions, on some future day when my children look anxiously through their childhood scrapbooks (which I will finish!) they will not find themselves among their classmates. It will be as though they never existed. Just like when Marty McFly’s head started disappearing from the photo because he couldn’t get his parents to make out. What have I done?
Megan’s gonna kill me.
*unless you count the five days we’re pulling them out to go to Disneyland later this month. it’s a family trip. you know.