Excuses, Excuses


Every registration in a morning is the same process: register students, check uniform, check stationery, give announcements, ask individuals to stay behind if they’ve got it wrong. I like to speak to them individually as it’s impossible to predict whether something bad has happened outside school, so it provides students to opportunity to talk without their peers being present. I like my tutor group and I have a good relationship with them so I find that we can talk to each other easily, but I do often have the same conversations and say the same things every single day to students:

“Why are you late?”

“Why don’t you have a pen?”

“Where’s your tie?”

“Why did you get a detention for…”


I’m also frustrated at hearing the same excuses every day:

“I woke up late”

“I forgot my PE kit so I had to go home and get it”

“I went to the toilet”

“I lost my bag”

The excuses are never original, the only difference being that it is a different child daily that gives them and after hearing them repeatedly for years I feel like I should be in the ‘Groundhog Day.’ These conversations are always followed by sanctions and phone calls home.

However, occasionally something will snap me awake and make me smile:

A few weeks before ago one of my tutor group was late. She’s twelve and I had seen her walking into school about thirty minutes before school started, so I already knew that her lateness was caused by her messing around on the yard with her friends. I decided to take a different approach with her. This was how the conversation genuinely went:

Me: Why are you late?

Child: (Thought for a bit) I had to take my little sister to school.

Me: Oh, I didn’t know you had a little sister. How old is she?

Child: Six.

Me: What school is she at?

Child: (named a school that is miles away).

Me: So if I were to go and ring your mother now she’d back you up?

Child: No, I’ve just remembered, I didn’t take my sister to school.

Me: Why did you tell me you did?

Child: I had a dream that I took my sister to school. I was confused.

Me: So you’re late because you had a dream you took your sister to school?

Child: Yes, I mean, no.

Me: So why were you late?

Child: I was on the yard and didn’t hear the whistle.

Me: Why didn’t you say that in the first place?

Child: (shrugs shoulders) dunno.


Most original and yet pointless excuse ever. Perhaps I should have showed her this quote:

β€œIt is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” ― George Washington

What about you guys? What’s the best lie you’ve ever been told by a child?

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26 thoughts on “Excuses, Excuses

  1. Personally, when I was younger I used to get frustrated because my dog would eat anything and everything, if I left my bedroom door open occasionally homework done on sheets would go missing (shreds would be left on the floor or, if I was lucky, half a sheet would remain), I obviously blamed the dog (because it was true!) but no one ever really believed me… πŸ˜›

  2. I am sure the best lie is one I haven’t figured out yet…so I will just pretend I don’t know πŸ™‚

  3. When I was in high school, 2 of my friends and I all went to school first period and then right after our homeroom class where attendance is taken, we when to office with our fishing poles and tackle boxes to check out and go fishing. We were informed that this would require notes from our parents, which of course we produced. The look on the principal’s face was priceless! And yes they were real notes from our parents.

  4. My kids are very uncreative at lying or making excuses. Apart from pointing the finger at each other they generally take the no excuse route or the very honest “I didn’t do what you asked because I really really wanted to do the other thing”.

    Though they both do deals all the time and my son is scrupulously fair in enforcing those but my daughter will regularly welch saying “I don’t want that deal anymore. I’ve changed my mind.” That infuriates her big brother.

    But Suzie, as a teacher, you need to fix up “stationary” to “stationery” in the beginning of this post. Please?

  5. I have a crippling phobia of birds, and once when I was running late for school (back in the day) I told my teacher that there was one blocking the entrance and so I was too afraid to go near it/get around it. To my surprise she accepted that one!

    I think you kid needs to work on their back story a little more though!

  6. Thankfully my kids are not good liars. Or better they don’t use it yet. And I just figured out that whenever my little girl is trying to tell me a story that is not 100% accurate her lips wrinkle in a certain way. And I hope this will stay like that for a loooong time as I will always be able to know if she is trying to sell a story to me πŸ˜‰

  7. I’m still in school…and I can’t think of any excuses I’ve given?!! Lol its strange because I can remember loads of times when I haven’t done homework…I guess I’ve just always admitted it, haha.

  8. This isn’t the best lie I’ve ever been told, but it’s the one that jumped to my mind.

    Nephew: I found this outside! (*holds up an ipod*)

    Me: You took that off my nightstand and took it outside and that’s how you ‘found it outside’?

    Nephew: (*beams, he always grins whenever he knows he’s caught*) YEP!

  9. Stop asking them why they’re late, haven’t done their homework, aren’t in correct uniform etc! Seriously! Asking ‘why’ just invites excuses, and unless it’s likely to be a CP issue, who really cares why they haven’t met their obligations? Simply tell them! You’re late. You’re not in uniform. Your homework isn’t complete. And consistently implement whatever consequences the school policy dictates for each infraction.

    In 99 cases out of 100 (my made-up-on-the-spot-statistic) the ‘reason’ or ‘excuse’ a child (or adult) hasn’t done this, that or the other thing, is because they haven’t prioritised it over something else, they didn’t want to do it, they decided it wasn’t important enough to bother with, or they didn’t take their responsibility to do it seriously enough to plan ahead to make it happen. 12 isn’t too young to begin learning this lesson. Children who are or should be being monitored for neglect or other CP issues will need more care, of course, but you can still teach even those kids to take responsibility for whatever IS within their control, which will give them a much better chance of having a happy and successful adult life than being comfortable with the endless list of excuses that go with family dysfunction.

    • Hi Madeline! I agree with you, but when I’ve done this before I have been asked by my pastoral line manager for reasons why etc, and he was less than impressed when I said that I hadn’t asked. Every school has different protocols.

  10. What strikes me about this is that the majority of excuses used now; are the same ones used by my friends and I when we were in High School in the mid 90’s (I started High School in 1994 and left in 1997)

    When I moved in with my now ex girlfriend in 2010 my stepdaughter and her cousin, who were part way through their first year of secondary school began asking me to write notes to get them out of PE, not wanting to be the ‘evil, mean step-mum’ I did the first maybe half dozen that were requested, after that I asked them this question “if your mum was standing here would you be asking her to write a note” the answer was no, so the notes stopped.

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