Playing Hooky

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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It’s been said that confession is good for the soul, though what often goes unsaid is that it’s bad for the reputation. Nonetheless, I’m prepared to share what exactly I’m doing with my son right now while his mother is in the opposite room—

I’m teaching him to play hooky.

He’s been feeling under the weather lately. No fever or cough to scratchy throat. No strange symptoms. Just the sort of general malaise that accompanies both February and the accrued effects of one hundred and fourteen days of kindergarten. I understand how the body can break down under all that snow and work.

No, he is not sick. But neither is he well.

“Do you have a cough?” I ask.


“You’re gonna need a cough.”

He heaves and snorts and snots, jerking himself off the couch only to flop back down.

“How’s that?” he asks.

I shake my head.

“This is all about finesse,” I tell him. “You need more Gary Cooper and less Jim Carrey.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

So I show him. Short, whimperish coughs rather than long hacks. He tries again. Much better.

“Throat sore?” I ask.

“A little.”

“Good. You need to start whispering when you talk. Not right off, mind you. Just sort of ease into it. And you can’t get up to play. Whatever you do, don’t do that. You have to sit right here nice and quiet.”

He nods and smiles and says, “Okay, Daddy.”

I know, I know. As far as Christian Parenting 101 goes, I am flunking. This is not the sort of way a good father raises his child. Children need to know the values of responsibility and truthfulness, and here I am teaching him otherwise. To be honest, a very big part of me is trying to find a good reason to continue and not quite finding one. But a very small part of me knows he needs the help. His mother is a teacher. She can spot a faker from across the room.

What I’m leaning on is the fact that my friend said this is an okay thing to do. And he should know. Kevin is not only a husband of one, father of five, and grandfather of eight, he is also a preacher. That accumulated knowledge of both parenting and religion makes his judgment a lot more reliable than mine when it comes to the grayer areas of life.

“I’ve had over eighty years total of being a dad,” he told me yesterday. “Preached for over forty. I’ve spoken to probably a million people and led my share to accept Christ. I’ve gotten awards and commendations, degrees and adulation. I’ve had a good life. But you know how I could’ve had a better one?”

“How?” I asked him.

“By taking a day off. Got plenty now, but I think it’s too little too late. Never underestimate the power of a time out. It’s God’s great blessing.”

I believe that.

If I am to teach my children of the greatness of life, then that will be included. That there is time well spent and time well wasted. That okay to call in sick sometimes because you must, and that it’s okay to call in well sometimes because you must.

That you should make a living and also a life.

I’m not sure if Kevin would condone my current method of passing all of this on. Somehow I have my doubts. But much of parenting is trial and error, of finding yourself already in a mess and being left with little choice than to try and make some good out of it. I think this is one of those times.

His mother peeks into the living room for a quick checkup.

“How are ya, sweetheart?” she asks.

My son sits still and coughs and whispers. She looks to me. I gravely shake my head.

“Looks like you should stay home tomorrow,” she tells him.

She turns away before she can see his thumbs up.

Post by Billy Coffey of Photo by L.L. Barkat of Seedlings in Stone. Used with permission.