I’ve been fortunate to have been able to visit a lot of very fun places over the years. Weekends in Montreal, Myrtle Beach and Miami. Week long parties in Las Vegas, Nashville and Aruba. My wife and I sneak off to Boston pretty much every chance that we get.
My favorite remains Walt Disney World in Florida, the one place that I never seem to tire of. For over three decades I’ve never gone more than a few years in between visits. I can’t tell you exactly when, just in case there are potential burglars that may be reading, but I’m becoming pretty excited about how close we’re getting to my next trip, the first time since we brought Kayla ten years ago that there will actually be children accompanying us.
I’m excited, but not without worry. After the initial surprise wears off there is a three hour plane ride that Alaina will have to sit through. There will be higher temperatures, long lines, and unfamiliar sleeping arrangements.
I took care of one of the biggest potential problems by finding accommodations with two bathrooms and was pleased by how she handled my secret practice day at Six Flags New England during spring break. Long lines on their second open day of the year were tolerated and although the heat did take an eventual toll, the long pants and boots needed to gain that last bit of extra height for a few of the thrill rides won’t be necessary in Disney. She clears all the requirements there by a comfortable margin.
My other concern was somewhat placated last month at parent teacher conferences. As absurd as I think it is that there should be a problem with a kindergartner missing a few days of school for a family vacation, the attendance policies at her school are roughly equivalent to that of a low level correctional facility. It’s the longest section of the student handbook, reminder pamphlets are sent home periodically and signs are posted all over school grounds. When picking her up for a mid-morning dentist appointment earlier this year I was told to be sure I had her back in school within two hours so that “it wasn’t held against her.” More than ten missed days over the course of the year and documentation is required to prove that these days were medically necessary. What the consequences would be are left unspecified.
English father Jon Platt found out what the repercussions were from his Isle of Wright school, recently losing a legal battle he took all the way to the English Supreme Court after refusing to pay fines levied against him for taking his seven year old daughter to Disney. The Court ruled that only the head teacher, not the parents, had the right to determine what was an appropriate absence. Nearly 150,000 other English families were fined last year for similar offences.
It’s completely absurd.
I understand the importance of early education and the role that attendance plays in a child’s success. I agree that children should be encouraged to take learning seriously and develop a sense of pride in their academic efforts. I’m sure that there are many irresponsible parents that are hindering their children’s education by enabling unnecessary truancy and that this should be monitored.
I’ll also be damned if I’m going to ask somebody else’s permission to take my kids to see Mickey Mouse.
Besides her academic progress and classroom behaviors, one of the things that my daughter’s teacher was required to comment on during our meeting was attendance, a perfect opportunity to inform her or our upcoming plans. She was refreshingly sensible in her response.
Whether or not the administrators are similarly rational remains to be seen, but as the trip approaches their response remains low on my list of concerns.
I’m more afraid that somebody is going to spoil the surprise.