“I’m sorry I haven’t been coming,” the kiddo at the end of the line said to me on the phone. “I’m allergic to cold air.”
Really?! A kid in Seattle allergic to cold air is like saying a New Yorker is allergic to taxis. “Why don’t you live in Arizona?” I asked.
He laughed, “I dunno.”
Another time a student called and said he couldn’t come to school because he had food poisoning. “Ewww, what did you eat?” I asked with concern.
“Uhh, uhhh, moldy bread.”
Who the heck eats moldy bread? If bread has mold on it, everybody knows to throw it out.
Any teacher who has taught for more than two days has heard weak and sometimes downright bizarre excuses that students give for why they were absent, didn’t do their homework, or unable to complete classwork, etc.
“My bunny rabbit ate my homework.” (I actually got a chewed up note from this student’s mom. Now I wonder if he fed his homework to his bunny so he didn’t have to complete it).
“My mom was making me paint the house.”
“He had court.” (A mom actually said this was why her son was truant for two years! Was he part of some drawn-out OJ-type trial? No teenage felon has court every day!)
“I was busy.” (This is probably the most common, irksome American excuse. Anybody who’s NOT DEAD is busy).
Little kids tend not to give as many excuses for incomplete or missing work as older students. It’s as if youth learn to justify and rationalize their actions more as they get older,As people get older, the denial thickens, like an avalanche or hairball of lies that follows them around wherever they go. Folks feel a greater need to justify their choices and behavior that got them in a mess.
Enter Dani Johnson
When I first attended a Dani Johnson conference, she said, “An excuse is a well-planned lie.” Since then, I’ve been able to see how I used to delude myself, and how often I made excuses and didn’t even know it.
The biggest excuses are the ones that I created that stood in my own way. Continual personal development and lifelong learning have helped me learn to get over myself and emotional obstacles. What about you? What excuse is standing between you and your dreams?
P.S. Just awhile ago I asked a student who’d been absent for several days, “Where were you? We missed seeing you.”
“Oh, I was just being lazy,” he answered.
“Thank you for being honest,” I replied. Honesty is so refreshing.
P.P.S. Tired of your own excuses? If nothing changes, nothing changes. Time to make it happen!