Duvet days for kids?

2009-07-03 00:00

MY daughter, who’s in matric, asked me this morning if she could take a day off school, and I said okay.

When I was a child, I practially had to be at death’s door to be allowed a day off school. If I — or any of my three siblings — woke up in the morning feeling off, my mother would send me to my father, who would clap an impatient hand to my forehead. If I felt ­feverish, I could stay at home. If my body temperature was deemed to be normal, it was off to school for me, with no ifs or buts.

During my 12 years of schooling, there were at least a dozen times when I didn’t want to go to school but wasn’t ill, as a result of which I became an inveterate bunker — which obviously involved lying to my parents and teachers.

For the first few years of my own children’s schooling, I followed my parents’ example: bona-fide illness was the only reason they could stay off school. This had partly to do with my very real need for time without small children around to get stuff done — work, household chores, etc.

But when my children got older, sometimes I would let them take a day off just because they wanted to. I wouldn’t always inquire too deeply into their reasons — remembering my own, sometimes spurious ones when I was younger, I thought I’d spare them the need to lie to me by pretending to be sick.

On these occasions, I’d sometimes skive off too. Then we’d get DVDs, make popcorn, and hang out on the ­sofa for the morning, or, if the weather was warm, we’d take the dogs for a long walk or go swimming. Some of the best quality time I spent with my children was on these illicit little holidays.

While I’m not advocating that children play hooky, with or without their parents’ permission, whenever they feel like it, even in grown-up land ­employees can put in for a day’s leave when they just don’t feel up to going to work. In fact, a British PR firm introduced “duvet days” in the late nineties as “a perk for the pooped”, so that people who couldn’t face work didn’t have to lie about their absence or feel guilty about calling in “sick” (according to wordspy.com).

So why shouldn’t fed-up children get time off as well? — Parent 24

 

• What do you think? Should children be allowed to stay home when they are feeling burnt out? Send your answer to features@witness.co.za

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