Friday, November 15, 2013

Taking a mental health day

Today I agreed to let Miss V take the day off from school. No, not because she's ill. On rare occasions the stress of schoolwork and other varied activities in her life builds to a point where V just can't take any more, and at that point she usually requests a mental health day -- a day off to rest and recharge before heading back into the fray. Captain Midnight and I have made it clear that these days off should be few and far between, not just during school but as part of a future job; we don't want her to get fired or demoted for taking a lot of unnecessary days off. But I believe the (very) occasional mental health day -- assuming it's not being taken to avoid big projects or tests -- helps kids and adults cope better when they return to school or work.

I'm pretty sure V's school would frown on this practice. And certainly my mom wouldn't approve. Mom, who in her defense had six kids to keep track of, was notorious for making us go to school all day, every day, no matter what. Any illness short of the plague was insufficient cause to stay home. Of course, back then if I'd had my druthers I would've chosen to hide out in my room, as I was frankly bully-bait in the California public schools. Every school morning from fifth grade on I started the day with an intense bout of nervous stomach, wondering whether my regular tormentors were going to mock me and throw my books in the creek again that day. And as I was suffering under these conditions, so did my schoolwork.

Thanks for nothing, MDUSD.

Fortunately, Miss V's public school experience hasn't been anywhere near as toxic as mine was, but I'm still convinced that somewhere between my let-me-hole-up-with-a-good-book-forever stance and Mom's oh-you're-going-to-school-today-young-lady stance, there is a sweet spot where you can get your work done competently and well without burning out. And if taking a mental health day helps accomplish that goal, I really don't see anything wrong with it.

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