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Please Stop Asking Me Why My Daughter Isn’t At School

I have a parenting problem of a tall order.

There is a question asked of me a lot. In fact for a two days period, I was asked a certain question (or a variation of it) five separate times by five different people.

Yes, they could be considered harmless comments from people who most likely don’t mean anything untoward by it. Yes, perhaps I am a ‘snowflake’ and just to get over it.

But you know what? I don’t care, after this week I have had enough.

My two girls are the product of two polar opposite looking people -- a six foot four, curly haired man and a well, let’s just say vertically challenged, straight haired woman. And ironically they don’t really look like either of us. They just look like a strange combination of the two, with perhaps more direct features from my mother than either of their parents.

Shona with her two daughters. Image: Supplied

So as we walk together as a family I am accustomed to being at the receiving end of some confused looks. I can see people’s minds ticking over -- is it a very blended family? Is this an actual family or two friends with some kids on a play date? Why are these people walking together? They just don’t get it.

And you know what, I am used to it, I get it, we look strange. I would probably wonder what was happening too.

But as well as our mix and match family appearance, there is another issue that comes with mine and my husband’s physically mismatched pairing: both of our daughters (five and seven) are also really tall.

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As well as this being perhaps the only obviously direct bi-product from a parent that they actually inherited, next to me, they also appear even taller -- amusing for people who know us but fuel for my short person syndrome.

But let me get to the point.

While one tall child is off at school during the week, I spend time with the other, my five-year-old who is due to start school next year. And during this time, for the past two years, I have had a different sort of gaze directed my way. A more judgmental one, one that is normally accompanied by a question about why my daughter isn’t at school.

“Have you got the day off school today?”

“No school today?”

“Why aren’t you at school today?”

Shona and her five-year-old daughter. Image: Supplied

I have had a whole range of queries asked to me, or indirectly to my daughter about why she is at the trampoline centre, shopping centre, at the pool/playground, wherever, having a good time with mum rather than being at school where she ‘should be’.

Well, the answer is, she doesn’t go to school. My five-year-old is at kinder and she goes on her scheduled days every week and on the other days, like those particular days she spends with her mother.

If the question was simply a question (as I will admit sometimes it may just be) that would be fine. My issue is that there are also other times where it is very clearly more of a nosy question filled with more than just a hint of judgment.

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And when this happens the questions sound more like this:

“You know your daughter shouldn’t be taken out of school for no reason and out having fun at the playground.”

“You’re setting a bad example taking your daughter out of school for no good reason.”

“Why are you making such a poor parenting choice?”

The truth of the matter is, behind these questions there is often implicit meaning and judgment, whether it is intended that way or not. And sometimes we ask questions when really it is none of our business but our curiosity gets the better of us so we do it anyway.

Shona with her youngest daughter. Image: Supplied

So each time one of these questions is directed my way, I do feel the need to justify why my daughter is with me because it feels like I am being judged, when I simply shouldn’t be.

Of course, I don’t have to respond. But if I said nothing an assumption of me would most definitely be made about my parenting and about my ‘poor choices’. So instead I choose to say:

“No, she isn’t at school because she doesn’t go to school yet. My daughter, unlike her mother beside her, is tall, very tall for her age . Next year when she is meant to be at school, she will be because no, I am not an irresponsible parent.”

So please, please don’t ask me why my daughter isn’t at school. She is just tall.

Featured image: Supplied