Christmas Break Is No Break
I understand that children should be released from school to celebrate Christmas. (Yes, I know, it sounds like a prison term. Have you heard the kids talk about it?) They need to open their bright packages from Santa Claus, after all. I know teachers deserve the day off, as well. I mean, almost everyone else has the day off, so why not teachers? Furthermore, I’d even say they deserve Christmas Eve off, even though most everyone else is, at least, working a half day. But two whole weeks off?
This Thursday is the 8-year old’s last day of school until next year. It sounds drastic, doesn’t it? Next year. To be precise, and I am always precise here at The Mess as you’ve seen in my deep research on previous posts, it is just over two weeks. Fifteen days. And, I swear, it feels as if they just started school. Do they really deserve two weeks of vacation already? I don’t get two weeks. Ever. They get student holidays throughout the year. I don’t receive student holidays. Nor do I get those teacher in-service days that educators receive in order to catch up on their plans and grading of papers. I have to deal with people every day whether I am prepared or not. There is no such thing as a break.
That alone is bad enough, but it gets worse. The three days prior to the little rug rats being forced back upon their parents, Dyl’s school has early dismissal. They can’t even go a whole day all the way up to the end! Whereas before I was dutifully in the pickup lane at 2:30, now I have to be ready at 1:15 for giggles and twenty million questions. Why the earlier hour and fifteen minutes is necessary when they are about to have two whole weeks of freedom, I am confused about. I mean, parents have their children all evening. Surely, the teachers can hold out for seventy-five more minutes to truly deserve the mini-vacation they are about to get. Isn’t this a violation of some contract we signed?
We’re lucky, however. My position as fulltime smart ass allows me to be available for the varying times and to take care of her on those non-school days that seem to keep cropping up. Not every family is so lucky. Children walk home to empty houses, the expensive cost of daycare is thrust upon other families, and some are left at school in aftercare programs until someone can get off work to retrieve their loved one, which is ironic since they would have been there anyway. Now, however, they have to pay for this little extra. For many families, it’s a time of juggling that adds stress to an already chaotic time. Just because school lets out, it doesn’t mean someone can be there for the children.
The holidays come with an abundance of stress. The economy sucks. There’s pressure to buy gifts you can’t afford and send cards to relatives you barely know. Furthermore, depression hits many as they think of loved ones no longer with them or family in other states or countries they won’t be able to see. Add to that the social events you feel obligated to attend, plus those you want to actually participate in. Shopping. Baking. Cooking. Decorating. And for many parents, on top of all of that, is the problem of who is going to be able to take care of little Johnnie and Suzy during the winter break. Soon, their Christmas vacation is not feeling like a vacation.
Perhaps, that’s the gift you can give this year, and it won’t cost you anything but a little peace and quiet. Look around your family and friends. Who could use some daycare assistance this Christmas holiday? If you can help, then I challenge you to reach out and be the safe haven a child may need and relieve some of the pressure from a burdened family. “It takes a village to raise a child.” Be a willing member of that village. You’ll not only be aiding a family in the present, you could very well be shaping someone’s future. That alone is a priceless gift.
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