Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When Kids Tell the Rest of the Story: Skipping School

As my kids moved well into adulthood, I began to wonder if we had reared Paul Harveys. As with most active kids, there were events that occurred in their lives that caused us to wonder how and if they would survive to become adults. Now they take delight in telling the rest of some of these stories.

As a teenager, I occasionally skipped school. Sometimes I got away with it. Sometimes I did not. What I thought to be my greatest deception, at the time, turned out to be my biggest bust.

I had friend write up the excuse for absence and sign my father’s name. The theory was that the high school administrators did not have my father’s signature or hand writing on file as my mother had always provided the parent’s signature when it was required. This note was a work of art that was complete with a coffee stain to make it look more real.

Unfortunately, too many people had witnessed these preparations and, in hindsight, I’m quite certain that one of the witnesses threw me under the school bus. My friend, who skipped with me, had an equally creative excuse for his absence. However, when we reached the head of the line to receive our admittance slip, the assistant principal told us to sit on the side until he was ready for us. No questions, no explanation, we were just busted with three days suspension that was spent sitting in study hall staring at the cracks in the ceiling.

When my own kids were in high school, the process for detecting school skipping was a little more sophisticated. A message on the answering machine greeted me one day, when I arrived home from work that advised that Kevin had missed part of the day of the school. It took me a few minutes to get him to tell us why he had skipped classes but he was, nonetheless, busted.

As it turned out, Kevin had gotten himself into some fairly serious trouble with the law. Normally, this type of incident would have required parent involvement to resolve. Being that he was 18 years-old at the time, Kevin could circumvent the parent involvement.  However, he failed to cover all of his tracks. Had he been just a little more on top of things he would have erased the phone message from the school.

Tim, on the other hand, was a little more resourceful. We would never have known that he skipped school as a teenager until he couldn’t resist bragging about it years later as an adult. Tim sounded enough like me on the phone that many people didn’t know which one of us that they were talking to until we identified ourselves.

One on my wife’s aunts was fooled about who she was talking to on one occasion. The conversation went something like this.

I answered the phone. “Hello.”

“Who am I talking to? It was a rude tone and a voice that I didn’t recognize.

“First, who is this calling?”

“Who am I talking to?”

“Who is asking?” My voice showed a bit of irritation.

“WHO am I talking to?” That was enough for me. I was going to have some fun with however this was.

“Well… who do you want it to be?”

“Let me talk to your mother!” Now she was shouting at me.

“That’s not possible. My mother is deceased.”

“Tim!” Let me talk to your mother!” By this time, I had a pretty good idea who the caller was but it didn’t excuse her rudeness, especially since she thought that she was bullying one of my children.

“This isn’t Tim. When you calm down and identify yourself, I’ll do what I can to assist you.”

“Put your mother on the phone right now, Tim, or I’m going to hang up.”

“Well now, don’t let me do anything to prevent that. By the way, if you get a chance to speak with my mother, say ‘hey’ for me as I haven’t spoken to her since she passed about ten years ago.”

She hung up. When the phone rang again, I advised my wife that was for her.

This woman was so certain that she was talking to Tim that she wouldn’t believe my wife when she told her that it was me. For the next few years, she wouldn’t speak to Tim or me at family gatherings. I was okay with that.

I have no doubt that Tim could have called the school and say that he was me in order to get himself excused from school. Our voices were that close. All of the boys always performed at above average level in school so a little hooky, if we had known at the time, would likely have earned fairly light punishment as long as it wasn’t habitual. Now it’s just amusing to tell about.

This is part of a series of When Kids Tell the Rest of the Story.  Click for the first, second and third stories of the series.


  1. ha, marlin, you sure have found out a lot later on, huh?
    my kids have told some tales, but they've still chosen to keep the ones they know i would get angry about to themselves! i guess it's just as well!
    interesting 3 kids you got there!

    1. Hey Sue!
      I always figured that there wasn't much sense to getting angry after the water has long since passed under the bridge. It's, actually, kind of fun to hear of some of their shenanigans, however frightening some of them are.
      This may be my way of getting even. Their kids might eventually read this stuff. :)) Then who will be laughing?