Tuesday, January 11, 2011

LIFE WITH A TEEN: PLEASE DISCUSS


This is the debate today:  Ally's first two classes of the school day are not academic classes.  She works as an aid in the office first period and has advanced drama second period.  Ally is something of an insomniac.  She also has nights when I am aware she is on her phone late at night, which I have pointed out is not conducive to going to sleep!

She has good grades, she is conscientious about attending her academic classes and will drag herself to school when she is sick so she does not fall behind.  However, there have been a number of mornings when she has needed to sleep in either because she is sick, has been sleepless much of the night or up very late completing homework.  At the beginning of the school year I allowed it occasionally and called the attendance office to explain that she would be in for second or third period.

Then the letter came.  It said Ally is a truant.  She has missed too many hours of school due to unexcused absences.  One reason was the day we took to visit colleges.  I thought that since she was signed out for the Senior Picnic we were good, but apparently not.  We were supposed to get permission in advance to take a day out of school to visit colleges, even though she would have missed school to go to the water slides. 

I spoke with the school attendance office about the other days which I had called in about and learned that even though I called, it was not excused.  Students are not considered sick if they are only out for a period or two of class.  She said in the future to say she had an appointment.

Since that first letter I have not allowed her to miss any classes except for real appointments.  Each time,  I have gotten another letter.  They are taking this stuff really seriously and I don't want to to cause a problem for Ally in the future (should it show up in some records search for a job, scholarship, etc.)

So - today Ally wanted to sleep in and miss the first two periods.  She has not been feeling well.  However, she managed to hang out with her friends all weekend, including last night to watch Pretty Little Liars.  So I said no, she had to get up and go to school or stay in bed all day.  She was very angry.  She texted me multiple times to state her case - they were not academic classes, they just sat around not doing anything important, in drama their production was over, etc.

I stuck with my position that I wouldn't lie so she could sleep in.  Am I being too much of a rule follower?  The attendance person handed me the proper excuse to use, so is that a still a lie?  Ladies of the internet - should I relent the next time this comes up?  I am not interested in being a hard ass, just doing the right thing.

7 comments:

smalltownmom said...

I'm on your side, especially since she was hanging out all weekend. Just because "nothing important" is happening doesn't mean a person should ignore responsibilities.

But from the school's point of view-- missing the morning attendance means they don't get state money for that student that day...if she was going home early, you probably wouldn't hear anything.

When my son had a morning appointment, I would take him to the school and he would get counted, then I would go to the office and sign him out right away. That way they got their state money and also he didn't show an absence on his record. Playing the system.

hokgardner said...

I'm on your side. Right now her job is to be at school, and she needs to learn that when she's out in the real world, she can't skip work just because she's tired or there's nothing important going on that morning.

And I got a truant letter for my daughter when she was in Kindergarten. I'm terrible about remembering to send in excuse notes when the kids are sick. I was mortified to receive it.

Tricia said...

Ally should go to school. I don't think it is a matter of being too much of a rule follower, I think that is an excuse to get around doing what she wants. Since she is young and this is kind of a learning time she needs to do stuff not because she wants to but because that is what you have to do. Going to these two periods is not a bad thing, striving for better attendance is not a bad thing. Sure she can rationalize why she should stay home. When I was in high school I rationalized skipping classes and going to the mall. But I knew it was not the right thing to do. I think you should force her because in her jobs there are going to be times that she has to do stupid things at stupid times that she could rationalize not doing but she still will have to do them!
Hey not only in her jobs but in relationships too you have to do stupid things that you would rather not!
Having said that, I think you do need to address the issue of sleeping. I have had insomnia and it is not pretty. I understand that. Maybe try to focus on how to make sure she can get the sleep she needs even if it is 9 hours a night. I know teens often need more sleep than adults just because that is the stage they are in.

michiganme said...

I don't disagree with any of you but one of my teenagers had the same sleeping problems and it was miserable. If I called in with the appt. excuse I'd feet guilty about it.

We got the truant letters from school also. In our district this does not go on a permanent record and the absence is counted for the class, not the day. But the hours missed do add up to detentions on Saturdays. So finally we gave up and just let nature take its course even though I was so concerned with her serving time with all those deliquents. :)

But surprise! Saturday school is FULL of teenagers just like her who have difficulty waking up for a 7:30am class. And Saturday school doesn't start until 10:00.

I'd collaborate with her for a solution---like maybe one late day a week. She's a good kid and this is a blip on the radar.

Flowerqueen said...

Tricia is much too hard on this point. Although it's true that Ally should go to school because it is her "job", from your previous and current posts, she's obviously not just sitting around and doing nothing.
If she's sick or doing homework, she's obviously not skipping off to the mall instead of going to school.
As a recent high school graduate, I can understand the complete idiocy of going to school while completely shut down and exhausted, especially if nothing important is being taught.

Let it go, the health and happiness of your daughter is indeed more important than the standards of a high school. She's not doing this on purpose.

yogurt said...

I think you're doing the right thing. If you give the appointment excuse you are rewarding, however reluctantly or inadvertently, her sleeping in behavior which is a function of her staying up too late behavior. Sleeping in is also a contributor of insomnia. The sleep-wake clock gets re-set, making it harder to fall asleep that night. Ask me how I know this :(

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It really depends. I call my son in when he has insomnia--which is a big problem for him. I call it in as sick since that's what I consider it. He NEVER stays up late voluntarily, so that's not part of his problem.

The bottom line though is that you have to follow your instinct with her. If you think it's becoming a bad habit I'd stop it. If you think she's doing a great job at school and she's only missing office duty once in a while I'd use the appt. excuse. Our school actually requires a not from the Dr. or dentist to excuse the absence.