Friday was my sons’ very first parent’s day at school. He was so excited for us to come to his kindergarten class and see what he does in a day. When we arrived to his school we saw his class lining up outside getting ready to go inside. When he saw us he got this huge nervous smile as we enthusiastically waved to him. Immediately there was something that caught my eye; I noticed one of his classmates dressed in complete winter gear. This girl had a winter coat, a scarf, hat, gloves, snow pants, and snow boots. I would guess the temperature outside was around sixty five degrees! I was floored by this discovery. At first I laughed because the concept was comical, but then I realized this poor little girls’ parents had to have dressed her, or at least Okayed this prior to her leaving the house. Because of their lack of any resemblance of intelligence she is the one who suffers. I was eager to get inside and catch a glimpse of her parents so I could see this folly with my own eyes. I was not too surprised to discovery they did not attend parents day. Just like last year, I had to endure the haunting sadness from the children’s faces that were left with empty chairs next to them.

When we arrived to his classroom the teacher had set up enough chairs arranged in theater seating to accompany both parents from each child in her class. When my wife and I took our seats and class started we noticed many empty seats. I wrote a post “The Sadness in Their Eyes” back in February or March discussing this same issue when we attended my daughters’ fifth grade parents’ day. I was filled with such sadness as I watched these kids’ whose parents did not show up slouching in their seats with their heads down. The only times they looked up was to check the door to see if their parent was about to walk through the door. I think the kids then were bothered more than the children in my sons’ kindergarten class. Perhaps this is because this is the first time they are experiencing this type of setting; regardless of this I could still see their sadness. I speculate what was going through their little minds wondering why all these parents are here but not mine.

After the morning routine was complete the parents and children were all able to play a counting game, once this was finished we were able to sit at our sons table and watch him work on his letters. He sits at a round table with three other classmates. Sure enough sitting next two us was the girl dressed in complete snow gear. She was so quite and so shy, my wife tried to help her with her letters, but she seemed lost in the concept. She did not speak one word the entire time we were there. Present was another girl sitting at the table with us who also did not have a parent with her. The man sitting next to his son was nice enough to interact with her and help her along. The thing I find ironic is my son and the other boy who had a parent with him; had no trouble with the letter assignment. The two kids in the group without parents there could barely trace the letter let along draw pictures of things starting with said letter.

When we got home I did a post on Facebook about how I felt bad for these kids and asking how parents can do this to their children. I caught backlash from some of my friends criticizing me for judging other parents. They pointed out they may be single parents who work two jobs, or parents whose employer wont let them off work or yada yada yada. The conversation got a little uncomfortable and tense. I in no way tried to judge other parents at least not consciously. I cannot imagine missing these things in my kid’s life.

This will be my last kindergarten parent’s day ever. I will never have this opportunity again, so there is no way I would miss it. When you look at it this way there should be no excuse to not attend these things. Whatever work you have will be there tomorrow. Not only will this be a memory lost for both you and your child, but not attending messes with your children’s’ psyche. I would assume the parents who make justifications for why they can’t come; have never seen the look of depression on their kids faces for them not attending. I would hope if they saw the sadness in their eyes they would change their outlook on this subject.

I am not saying these parents are bad in anyway. I know many of them are shitty parents, but I can’t say they all are. I can understand the work argument. For the longest time I was a corporate scumbag whose only focus was on working my way up the latter, and trying to achieve bigger bonuses, higher pay, and higher status. I would not miss a day of work for any reason. I didn’t care about parent’s day, or any other function for that matter which interfered with my work. I look back at this now filled with regret for all the things I missed. My kids are happy I am no longer this way; I am joyful I am no longer this way,

I am pleased I only need to go to these things for five more years. I am haunted and have nightmares over these poor children. I either have a dream where I am one of those children, or I am the parent and the children appear dead and are just starring at me with sunken eyes and pale skin. I try speaking to them, but the only thing they will say is “why.” This is one creepy ass dream; I had it last year for a few weeks, and I have already had this dream since my son’s parent’s day.

  1. Traci says:

    I am a single parent of 3 boys and I work full time in a demanding job position. I have never missed a parent/student day or activity with any of my kids. MN law states employess are allowed 16 hours per year to attend school activities and functions. I’m not judging parents that do not attend these functions, however I agree with Tim; seeing the sadness in these kids’ eyes as they watch the door to see if their parent will show up and to see the kids try to go on with the activity without their parents by their side is heartbreaking. On the otherhand, seeing my son’s eyes light up when they see me arrive is something I would never trade for anything.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Well put. The image brings tears to my eyes. It just really gets under my skin, perhaps it is because I had the “work is mor important” attitude and I caused my kids to feel this way. Maybe that explains the nighmares.

  2. gail says:

    Maybe try thinking about HOW the parents must feel HAVING to miss those times. You are lucky and one of the minority who are able to take time from work to attend your children’s events. Even though there is a law on the side of parents, many work at places where that is not followed, and should you push it, you will lose your job. Not everyone is strong enough to fight that…they need that job. And yes…you are judging…you possibly cannot see it, but it’s there.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      I am not saying I’m just saying

    • Traci says:

      I disagree with the comment about being in the minority with taking time off work to attend these functions. As noted in another comment there is usually 3 – 4 weeks notice for these events and typically there are only a few kids that do not have parents or grandparents with them. This tells me that more parents than not take the time to work this in their schedule or at the very least have a relative or close family friend go in their place. If a person has never attended school activites and seen the look of sadness and desperation on these kids face when they are sitting alone they will never understand where Tim and I are coming from and why we feel so strongly about making these functions our main priority.

  3. You wrote that you weren’t judging these parents and then you turn around to judge them. It is hard to know the rationale behind not showing up at the function until you walk a mile in their shoes!

    As has been pointed out, some employers don’t care the reasons — they don’t grant time off for such things. Some of the parents might have psychological issues that prevented them from attending.

    I’m not a parent, but, if I was, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t have gone out of concern FOR my child. Since I have social anxiety disorder and crowds tend to set off severe panic attacks, I would chosen to stay home so as not to embarrass my child.

    Which would have been worse? Staying home or going and freaking out?

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Yes going would have been worse. I have social anxiety, possibly not as bad as yours. I am always in a panic at these things, but I take my meds and I go. I am not trying to judge these parents as bad for not going. I know there are a ton of parents who can get the time off work, but choose not to go. I know there are parents who do not work and stay at home but choose not to go. I feel for the parents who struggle and have no choice but to miss this, but I do not think these parents are the norm. We knew a few weeks in advance that parents day was friday. I have a hard time believing parents can not take a few hours off in a day with a month notice. This seems unrealistic. This is where parents CHOOSE their work over their children

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