I am a big believer in mental health days! Thankfully, I am very fortunate in that my general health is very good (I know, I know – don’t give yourself a bad omen). Like your overall health, I think your mental health needs constant attention. So, I make sure to give myself mental health days.
It all started back in high school. I remember discussing my need for a day off with my mom. I clearly and rationally explained that I needed a break, have taken no sick days, and generally do the right thing. So, as a reward for this, I wanted acknowledgement that I knew when my body needed rest and some space. After promising to make up missed work and agreeing I would not make a big deal out of our arrangement, my mother acquiesced. It was a great system. While walking to school with my neighbor and friend, I told him, “I don’t think I am going to feel well a week from Thursday.”
He looked like Elmer Fudd when searching for Bugs Bunny, “What do you mean you are not going to feel well a week from Thursday? How can you know that?”
With a fake cough, I continued, “I just know. Trust me. A cold is coming on.”
The day after my mental health day, my friend would take note and inquire how I could know so far in advance I would be sick. He was generally a bright guy but did not seem to be familiar with mental health days. Maybe, he would have called it cutting – how gauche! I was beyond such a vulgarity.
Well, this past week, my nearly 8-year-old had his first mental health day. Yes, I admit it is young to be starting with such a concept though he is advanced. My wife and I have given up all hope for the coveted “Parent of the Year” award, so we can do what we think is right (if anyone is associated with child services, please keep this between us). He actually has been asking about one since last year when he found out a girl in his class took a day off even though she wasn’t sick. His requests grew into protests when my younger son and I both had the week off starting with President’s Day. Around this same time, my wife and I were getting more and more exasperated with the comments on his behavior charts. While we don’t believe in rewarding bad behavior, maybe a break from school would do him good. It certainly would relieve the stress from us for a day.
Anyway, we allowed him the day off on the condition that he gets all his work done, that he recognize this will not be a regular event, and he does not discuss the day off with anyone. Of course, he agreed to these stipulations. I am pretty sure he barely heard the rules and would have said yes to wearing a dress and eating broccoli every day for the next month as well. Well, the very same day he returned to school, my wife received an email from the teacher. Everyone in the class knew about the mental health day, they were very jealous, and she was concerned that he did not have the patience to listen to a crucial math concept which he had missed due to his day off.
Ahh to be rebuked by teachers. It makes me feel young. It makes me feel like I need my own mental health day. At my age, I should get more extra mental health days. After all, I’ve got seniority, and I need a break.