When our sons were 3 years old and 6 months old, we flew to San Diego for vacation (made especially memorable by our 3-year-old repeatedly asking “are eggs sandy in Sandy Eggo? We didn’t understand why he was asking until he’d asked about 50 times!). The weather was perfect. The crowds were low. As I sat on a bench at Legoland with a napping baby, a grandmother sat down next to me. She told me how she and her husband try to take their grandchildren on vacation each year during September. “It simply is the best month to travel,” she told me. I had to agree, but then I said, “It will be hard when they are in school.” She looked at me incredulously and said, “You’re the parent. You can take them out of school whenever you want to.”
When both boys were in elementary school we did take them out: for ski racing, for “big” trips to Hong Kong and Mexico to visit family and for “little” trips to the big city to visit museums or see the Avs play. My husband coined a phrase he liked to use when asked how we could justify them missing school: “You can’t make memories as a family when they are in school.” Both boys were good students and their teachers were always supportive.
Middle school is different. There is more learning and it is more concentrated in the day. There is more homework and our 8th grader hates to have “make up work.” Still when the opportunity arose for my 6th grader and me to play hooky on a recent Monday, we did. The occasion was my great-aunt’s 80th birthday party, 200 miles and three major mountain passes away. Our schedule was such that we couldn’t go down on Saturday. We would have to go on Sunday and we could either go down and back in one day or spend Sunday night at the family cabin, skipping school on Monday. Choice? What choice?
It turned out to be the best weekend of the year weather-wise – blue skies, warm sun, nary a breeze. The aspens and oak brush were nearing the height of their color and the tourists were mostly gone. We visited lots of relatives, rode our mountain bikes, fished, read, played Yahtzee and most importantly, enjoyed one another’s uninterrupted company for 28 hours. My jaw actually hurt from talking as my son enjoyed and capitalized on my undivided attention.
Yes, he had make up work and yes, he didn’t enjoy it one bit. But in those stolen moments on that bonus Monday, we extended summer for one last day and made some memories.
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