My dad loved baseball. He played in college and for the army in the 40s and 50s. He tried out for the Yankees but didn’t make it. I loved hearing these stories about his life. My favorite happened when he was a little kid. His dad showed up at school and took him out to his first baseball game. I don’t know if his lifelong love of baseball came from seeing this first game. Perhaps his dad knew he loved baseball so much, that he took time off from work and money out of the shallow family coffers to break him out of school and bring him to the game.
My dad didn’t mention his childhood with four sisters, a mom and police-officer-dad too often but he did tell us this story on occasion. I’ve always wondered if this was one of those formative experiences that shaped who he was. He loved to spring surprises on us, last minute family vacations, coming home to a hole in the backyard that soon became a pool. He was always making things fun for us. You know what, it worked. I have nothing but happy memories of my dad and the fun things he did.
After having been a mother for about fifteen years, it finally occurred to me that I could channel my dad and play hooky with my kids. I could break them out of school with impunity! Three years running, I took my daughter and a slew of friends out of school to bring them to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s yearly fashion show. It was fun and artsy. To legitimize the outing in my mind, I gave them a quick tour of the college
Last fall, one of my kids felt gipped on his birthday. I thought, I can fix this. I felt like Super Woman! I drove up, with his older brother in tow and broke him out of school. I justified this outing because it was 98 degrees out and his school had no air conditioning. I spirited him off to a cool movie theater to see an R-rated movie I had told him he couldn’t see. After the movie, we dropped him at school and no one was the wiser. But he went back to school with a skip in his step and a smile on his face.
At the writing of this piece, I’m planning my next jailbreak with my youngest son. His older brother, who he’s tight with, is leaving for three months and I thought it would be fun for them to have some special, illegal time together. Also, the same older brother never got any jailbreak days, so I am trying to make it up to him by letting him break his siblings out of school.
Being the responsible parent that I am, I did a little research on playing hooky with my children, just to be sure I was doing the right thing. I am of the generation who needs to confirm our childrearing with experts. I stopped reading after the third article. They all said it was okay to play hooky for a once in a lifetime event such as a family reunion, a family vacation or an inauguration. What the heck? How about just to have some fun? They mentioned the very adverse impact on the schools, catching kids up, etc. Is the three hours he will be gone going to disrupt the class? Is he going to fall behind in fifth grade? Come on, really?
Well, I’m the parent, this is my kid and I know what’s best for him. Three hours watching a funny movie with his big brother is just what Dr. Mom ordered. Another jailbreak, another inappropriate movie, another fabulous memory.