When I was a little girl, I remember sitting in my homeroom class and hearing my name called over the loudspeaker.
Can you please send Lauren up to the front office?”
I looked up from my book and everyone snickered and speculated as to what I’d done to get called out of class. With a knot in my stomach, I packed up my things and took the long walk up to the front office. I turned the corner to the office and saw my mom sitting there. She was smiling and I knew right away that I wasn’t in trouble. She said, “Ready, kiddo?” I followed her out of the office and asked her where we were going. She told me she was taking me to McDonald’s for lunch. McDonald’s! On a school day!
Driving away from school in our custard-yellow station wagon, I felt so special. I knew my friends were in the cafeteria, huddled over their styrofoam trays eating hockey puck hamburgers and canned peaches. I was happily chomping away on my Happy Meal savoring those salty french fries and that time with my mom. Walking back to my classroom after lunch, I felt so happy and refreshed.
THIS IS WHY I PLAY HOOKY WITH MY KIDS!
Out of hundreds of elementary school lunches, I only remember a few. I remember the one where the cool girls said I was the leader of the Nerd Herd. I remember the one where I got to play soccer with the boys. I remember playing dodgeball in the cafeteria during rainy day schedule… and I remember going to McDonald’s with my mom.
Budget cuts have taken away afternoon recess. It’s not unusual for my kids to have thirty minutes of homework after putting in an 8-hour day at school. They get flustered by the amount of work expected from them and I understand why. It’s obvious when they are nearing the end of their little ropes.
I know how good I feel when I take a couple of hours to grab an iced tea from AJ’s and get a pedicure; I am confident they appreciate mental health breaks, too.
Every so often, I will grab one (or both) of them and take them on a date during the school day. My kids have excellent grades and they always come home with their behavior calendars colored all the right colors. Let’s be honest, folks – they’re not at Harvard. If they miss an hour of school here and there no one is going to die.
I might pull them out of school for a special lunch at Chipotle or I might take them to the movies.
They deserve that special feeling of a quick date with their Mom. By taking an hour or two a few times a year to play hooky with my kids, I hope to build those special memories with them and give them a little needed mental break.
Thirty years later, I carry the memory of my McDonald’s date with me and how it made me feel. Try it with your kids. They won’t be the only ones to leave your date feeling happy and refreshed, I promise.