Want To Be There

“Okay, fine, good.” These are the answers I get when I ask my children about school. None of the responses – including the good – go along with enthusiasm. When I ask for more details, it is as if the children were trained by the CIA and refuse to give out information. However, there are those rare days when the children are excited about their school day. Those are great days, and I love to share their enthusiasm. SJ had just such a day on Monday.
I work 5 days a week. I am out of the house by 6 A.M. and return at approximately 4:45 (work often continues after the children are asleep). My wife works five days a week. For three of those days, she is in the city. She leaves just after she drops SJ off for school and returns home by 7 P.M. The two days she works from home she is expected to be working her standard eight hours.
I am thankful that we are both employed and have managed to stay so throughout the recession and the tepid recovery. We have not had to fret over bills (though I occasionally forget) and have not had our salaries reduced.  We have been fortunate. No complaints despite the long hours. That’s life, and we accept it.
When SJ gets excited, it is hard to understand what he is saying. He talks fast, and his details are all over the place. Yet, on Monday he was very clear. He was happily rambling on about a Thanksgiving Festival his school was going to be having. SJ informed me that BR, my wife, my mother, and I were all invited and there was room for everyone. He would be singing songs. There would be food for everyone. The details kept spilling out of the smile that was his mouth.
He was thrilled, so I was excited. Of course, I would go to see this grand performance. “When is it?” He had no idea.
“Come on daddy. Let’s look at the note in my back pack. They sent a note home for you.” He hurried down to the kitchen, opened his back pack, took out the note and gave it to me. He instructed, “Read it.”
I read the note and was sickened. The big event was on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving at 1:30.  Why? Why do they make these events, psyche the kids up, and then schedule them during the workday? Of course, the notice mentioned how we must reserve as the event has been a tremendous success in the past with many family members attending. How can they attend, I wondered? Don’t they have jobs, daily responsibilities?
I’m sure all of the parents have daily responsibilities. However, many find a way to fit this event into their schedule. But I can’t. I can’t go. I feel guilty. I feel like crap. I have a limited amount of days I can take off of work – like everyone else – and have used some already. My wife does not know if she can make it either as she is in the office on Tuesdays. Lastly, we don’t want to pull my other son out of school to attend. My mother, however, will be attending. Thankfully, she is retired and enjoys attending the children’s events.
So, SJ will have representation. Despite this, I am angry about being put in this situation. As a father and educator, I am thrilled to see my son excited about something at school. I am glad the school has gone to this effort which is motivating students (well, at least one). It is no one’s fault.
Sometimes, it really would be nice to be in two places at one time!

38 thoughts on “Want To Be There

  1. That really does stink. 🙁 It was the same for me when my son was in preschool. Even though I worked at the school, every special party that they had, I was of course required to run the party in my own classroom, and always had to miss out on his. He was the child without a parent at those parties, and it was always sad for me (and probably him, although he didn’t complain much). Talk about so close, and yet so far away. 🙁 I’m so thankful that I can do those things now that I stay at home, although the financial situation we have going on is admittedly bit scary. Thank goodness for those grandparents! PS-The preschool scheduled during the day on purpose in hopes that parents would take kids home and they could send teachers home early, since the pay was hourly. I’m sure that’s not the case in the public school though, so I don’t know what they’re thinking! Can you get on board with the principal or PTO and make a suggestion for future events???

  2. WHat a bummer that they did not work out coverage so you could go to the events!
    I do feel lucky that my can go.
    I don’t think the school will change for me.They said it has been a packed event in past years.

    • In theory she can record it. However, in praciticality, she is horrible with that sort of thing. If I’m lucky, she would end up with a video of her shoes. She would stress it and make me feel like asking her was not worth it.

  3. I was going to suggest taping it and then having a family night with popcorn. lol
    Its tough, but he will be happy to see a family member there where he can get feedback and feel proud. You can always have him put on a private show at home and just make it a big night..if that helps.

  4. Well…that just stinks. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s all that uncommon. During the last week of school, our boys have four 1/2 day events. Not kidding. 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for four days in a row. I imagine it makes parents who work outside the home insane. I don’t know how working parents do it. What a disappointment.

  5. I’m sorry. The anxiety of letting your son down is obviously killing you. Can you not get a sub in for that afternoon? They really should schedule something like this for a Saturday or for an evening event.

    • Theoretically, I can go. I do get days off. However, I have to weigh what else I must take days off and allow a couple in case I get sick.
      I do wish it was an evening thing, but I understand that would be an added expense for the school.

  6. I’m sorry to hear that, it’s a total bummer that you may not be able to attend. It seems to me that just as long as they continue to get a good turn out of parents and family members to the event at this time of the day, they won’t care who they are, so the many parents who have full time jobs are the ones who will always miss out.

  7. That is disappointing. When the kids were younger the school would invite parents who would like to attend a school function during the day to attend the rehearsal which was performed for the whole school. There would be another performance in the evening. I live in a factory town and before all the closures at least 50% of the population worked swing shifts. The faculty at the schools were very accommodating of this fact.
    Hopefully someone will record it and you can watch it as a family at a more convenient time.

  8. That really does stink, but unfortunately that happens. my sons school, parents organization makes meetings in the afternoon, so only the rich parents, where the mothers dont work can attend

  9. So our grandkids have been able to attend a year around school with quarterly vacations. Goods and bads: Goods: the kids seem to like this schedule better, without the ups and downs of ending and starting school. And there is “more time” to have parent-child events. Bads: the rest of US is out of sync with this system. This school was in San Diego area. What do you think? Now, time for talks about “as school is to kids, work is to parents.” Everyone has responsibilities that sometimes makes it difficult to have fun. Thanks for sharing, Barb

    • I think that type of schedule is better in term of an eduational basis. However, I don’t think it will happen on a widespread basis any time soon because as you say the rest of the US is out of sync.
      I appreciate your comments.

  10. Ah the guilt of the working parent. Unfortunately there will always be things you miss and things you don’t. Good thing children are amazingly adaptable. However, I do challenge your notion of “saving” your sick days. Why is this so? Do you use all of them every year? In balancing what will have more long-term value for you, will it be the ability to stay in bed for a day watching reruns should the inevitable cold arrive, or will it be taking a mental health day to participate in something that’s obviously important to you and your child? It’s a question of risk versus reward. Whatever your decision, it will require some sacrifice and compromise, but ultimately that’s something you have to decide and then be OK with having made it.

  11. As a TA I understand I have no idea why the school set such event in the middle of the day and expect parents to attend.
    As you are a parent working 5/7 would you be willing to take your child to school for a saturday/sunday production?
    I’m sure not everyone would be willing.

    • I here what you are saying. I have already taken some days and know for a fact I must take at least two more. I usually like to have one left as I end the year for a ‘just in case’ day.
      Anyway, your response has made me think. Maybe, I should just take the day – that is what they are there for.

    • I would be happy to go to the event on Sunday (I can’t go on Sat. – we observe the Jewish Sabbath). I think it is a money issue as it will cost the school more money to run the event at time where it is normally closed.

  12. I don’t know how I missed this post, but my heart aches for you and your son. I get how much you want to be there for him and support his enthusiasm for this event. I hope you’re able to make peace one way or the other. Thanks for sharing this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *