The following is the tale of how I stopped flippantly taking days off from school and work. Frankly, thinking about this still ticks me off.
As a kid, I never really liked school. I didn’t like the teachers, didn’t like the people, and especially didn’t like doing my homework. I was perpetually late and the ultimate procrastinator, to the point where I once got stuck doing a semester’s worth of homework in one weekend. In short, I hated school.
One day, when I was in third grade (I was 8 years old), I decided that I didn’t want to go to school and that I should have the day off. Since my parents dropped me off at school, I never thought about the traditional “not making it to class” routine used by most kids. Besides, I went to a private school, so not being there would be met with a very swift response from everyone short of the governor. Instead of going the stealth route, I decided to just strong-arm my mom into letting me stay home.
When the time came to go to school I started kicking, screaming, running around the house, refusing to put my clothes on, and crying, all in an effort to tell my mom how badly I didn’t want to go to school. I figured if I could just stall her until after 8:30 AM — half an hour after school started — I couldn’t possibly go in. I’d be too late!
As it turns out, it didn’t even take that long. By 7:50 my mom had had enough. “Fine,” she said, “you don’t want to go to school? You don’t have to. But remember, if you choose to stay home, then you’re grounded for the whole day. You can’t go out side and no one can come in to play.”
Ouch! She drove a hard bargain. Still, a day at home, even when grounded, was scores better than anything I could have possibly faced in school. “OK!” I happily answered.
“And,” she continued, “you’ll have to make up your homework, so tomorrow you probably won’t be able to go outside either.”
That one got me thinking. For about two seconds.
“OK” I said, and I ran off to my room.
It wasn’t all that fun, but it wasn’t bad, either. At least it wasn’t school. I spent most of that day in my room, either drawing or sleeping, or watching television in the living room.
Sometime later, my friends came over and asked if I could come out and play, so I ran to my mom and asked her if I could go out. She reminded me of our bargain.
“Man,” I thought, “Today’s gonna be boring.”
From then on it was. My friends were playing outside and I… well, the most I could do is look at them from the carport. I was bored. “At least I didn’t have to go to school,” I said, mostly to convince myself that it would’ve been worse otherwise.
The next day I didn’t give my mom any problems in the morning. I got dressed and ready for school then went without any incident. When the class started, I told my teacher that I had been sick the day before and that I would need to make up my homework.
She looked at me for a second then said something I’ll never forget: “There wasn’t any homework. We didn’t have school yesterday.”