Can Playing Hooky Be Healthy?

Christina Staff

By Christina Staff,
Healthy Planet Staff Writer

When was the last time you played “hooky” and broke free from the day-to-day grind? It was a typical Thursday morning and an abnormally mild August day. With pleading eyes, my son sat on our sofa asking to do that very thing – play hooky. Considering my office workload, I thought it best to carry on with the day as planned, so I suggested we reconvene that evening to brainstorm some ideas for a future hooky day. Basically, I was being boring. I knew it, and he knew it, too.

A few minutes into answering emails at my desk, I found myself reconsidering his plea to be impulsive. Shortly thereafter, a decision was made; I left the office and marched into the daycare announcing to him it was time to escape the monotony and play hooky! “Get your stuff and let’s go!” I declared with a smile. His expression was priceless as we went out the door to carpe diem what was left of our day.

Blessed with a naturally adventurous son, our day’s outing really had no plan, but it wouldn’t be a simple walk in the park. We swung to new heights on a zipline and navigated a ropes course before taking a spin on the Wheel at Union Station, where afterward we celebrated a par 12 achievement on a par 2 mini-golf course. We did end up in a park as it were, but not on the sidewalks. We paddled a kayak around the various channels of Forest Park; through sky-high fountains that seemed to reach the clouds while singing the theme song from Sesame Street. Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away…

Soaking up the afternoon sun with the only plan being no plan, I knew the right choice had been made that day when my son, completely unprompted, plucked a flower from a nearby bush and handed it to me, “Here you go, Mom.” As my heart melted (and not from the afternoon heat), I instantly knew I would have regretted not acting on that spontaneity and making the day an adventure we’d both remember. My son has since told countless people how we braved a zipline and rode a Ferris wheel “so tall that the people on the sidewalks below resembled beetles.”

Quality time with those we love is an investment in our emotional health. So often, it isn’t about the material things we give; it’s about the time together. You’ve heard the saying, Time is our most precious gift. When we gift someone our time, we are also gifting them something bigger; the affirmation they are a valued presence in our lives. That gift is as priceless as my son’s face when he saw me walk through the daycare door on a Thursday that turned out to be anything but typical. Honestly, I can’t wait to play hooky again.