Moms and Dads: What if you decide to pick one day to think outside the box when it comes to your kids’ education? What might that look like?
Imagine you drop the carpool.
Drop the to-do list.
Take a personal day off.
Say you wanted your teenager to have an experience that he or she might not get at school or camp or on a family vacation? The kind of experience that can wake your teen up – really wake him up to realities outside the comfort zone of friends, texting, homework and sports?
That’s just what my sister did with her 15-year old son. They played hooky last week.
She’s a Mom On A Mission. M.O.M.
Mom and son went to an L.A. courthouse to watch the examination of a prisoner plaintiff, an alleged member of a Mexican mafia ring who was originally charged with, and serving time, for first-degree murder. But the jury did not know this about the plaintiff’s past; they just understood that he had been recently involved in a prison riot and police brutality case, the current case on trial. The story my sister told described the judge as conscientious and methodical in her approach. She would pause the proceedings and turn to the jury to explain things very clearly. This was also great for the public viewers.
M.O.M: “It was a better education of the justice system than [my son] could have ever gotten in school! It was riveting.”
Son of M.O.M.: “The court trial was a really good reason to miss out of school not only because I’m interested in law, but also because it was just a great live experience to see how the law works and how lawyers accuse or defend the defendants. The whole process of the trial was so cool.”
After the hearing my sister and nephew went to Father Boyle’s Homeboys Industries. Father Boyle is known for his amazing work with LA gang members, the stories of which are told in his book, Tattoos on the Heart. For two decades, Father Boyle’s team has helped thousands of gang members get out, remove their gang tattoos, help them finish school, and get jobs. They hung out at the café called Home Girls. All the employees are ex-gang members. They wear t-shirts and hats with the motto: “Jobs Not Jails.” [You can watch the DVD, G-Dog, to really get the mission of Father Boyle’s work.]
And guess what? My nephew is now even more interested in pursuing law. My sis is now going to do the same “hooky” dates with her two younger teenagers. She’s all M.O.M. Her plan is that all three kids will get to do a “real life education” day every year until they graduate from high school.
Son of M.O.M.: “Visiting the Homeboy Industries was very inspiring and moving. My mom has always been telling me about how great Father Boyle is and how much he has done to get these gang members off the street. But actually visiting it for the first time really hit me because I saw all of these people who look like they would be in a gang (tattoos and piercings everywhere), but were actually working real jobs, smiling, and laughing with each other.”
Yet something else also was at work here. Let’s call it compassion. Let’s even suggest that this hooky outing also changed my nephew’s perspective about human beings’ capacity to change and the role of community to radically heal the soul. Let’s also suggest that something was forever changed between mother and son. An experience. A tug of heart strings. Love.
So I challenge my parent readers to think of what hooky might look like – not the opening season baseball game or spa treatment or a mental health day of sleeping in late.
Step outside the box.
How could a day of hooky change your kids’ life – and yours?