Ah, a day off, what a wonderful thing! We love it when we have a whole day to ourselves to do whatever we want, and those days are rare.
Corporate CEOs may never get a day off, always being held responsible for the functioning of the company, the livelihood of hundreds of employees, and the future of the product. Even if they go out of town, they may receive calls and e-mails from the company that they must answer in a timely manner.
The religious leader of a congregation may not get any time off, either. Although worship services are performed at regular times, clergy may be called upon to do extra ceremonies for children, couples, and the sick or dying. Spiritual leaders may take phone calls from parishioners in the middle of the night if a crisis arises.
Parents might not get a whole day off for 20-30 years. Once they begin having children, they won’t ever get a whole day free until the children are absolutely independent adults, living on their own. Although parents might raise a particularly mature youngster that can be left to his own devices after 16 years of parenting, if the family has more than one child, the parenting time is increased to 18 or 19 years. Three children puts parents up to 20-25 years. Additionally, if any one of the children is developmentally delayed, the parenting could last well over 40 years with no day off.
Single people are not off the hook, either. If they have pets, or friends, or other family members that they care about, chances are, they won’t get a whole day off very often, either. There will be some part of Saturday when they have to take the dog to the groomers or pick up some things at the grocery store for a grandmother or go to a niece’s birthday party. So, even folks who are 22 or 23 years old will find it hard to get a whole day off.
What about teenagers? Do they get whole days off? Generally, not during the school year. They go to school Monday through Friday and that IS their work. When they come home, they have homework, chores, social engagements, and sports or music practice. It may appear that they have weekends entirely off, but older teens generally have to do some sort of homework on the weekends, they may have a part-time job that they work on weekends, or they may have family responsibilities they are not particularly excited about fulfilling, like attending their younger brother’s baseball game.
What about summer vacation? Don’t older teens get several months off at a time? If we look at 16, 17, and 18-year-olds who are still in high school, it would appear that they get the whole summer off, but if they have a part-time job, they really don’t. They may have some whole days off, but they don’t have the whole summer. And, I’m sure the parents still have chores and family expectations for them, which probably limits the number of whole days they have off, even during summer.
At age 14 and 15, however, it is possible to have WHOLE DAYS off. There are school responsibilities during the academic year, with homework and projects to do in the evenings and on weekends. Team sports and other activities will fill children’s free time when homework does not, and chores will play a part on weekends that aren’t filled with school obligations. However, the 14-15 year old can’t quite hold a professional job during the summer and therefore, can have some WHOLE DAYS off.
It’s not a great idea to let a kid that age just sit around and do nothing all summer, but it is an okay idea to let them take whole days and do relaxing, fun activities, that may not contribute to society in any meaningful way because it is the LAST TIME they will get WHOLE DAYS off for the next FIFTY YEARS.
If you took a job that doesn’t allow time off or if you had children or if you bought pets or if you took out loans that require you work a lot, don’t begrudge time off to your teenager just because you don’t have any. Let them enjoy time off so they remember what it is. And, consider taking a day or two off to be with them. Like I said, in a little while, they’re going to embark on a 50-year busy streak and you won’t get to spend a lot of time with them. Take some time now while they still have it.
Use the summer to let your young teens relax and have fun. They know their fun days are coming to an end. They’re trying to squeeze in as much fun as they can before it’s too late. Rather than be jealous of what they have, let them enjoy it and try to enjoy it with them whenever you can.