Spring break comes exactly when everyone truly needs a break — from work, from school, from the crappy weather. What I don’t like is the night before school starts again. I have to nag my kids to go to bed because they’re used to staying up late watching Avatar and Moana. We don’t have any decent food for school lunches because we’ve been out of town and eating takeout. Oh, and I haven’t done laundry for days because, hello, I’m taking a break. Duh.
Basically the morning will be a disaster, but what makes me really anxious is knowing I’ll wake to the mad rush that is the beginning of the end of another school year. Before you dive into your summer vacation, you’re going to have to survive a little hazing first. Ready? Get Set. Go!
1. Special Days
Because regular school days just aren’t that special, we must concoct at least a week’s worth of “special days” for our kids to get their ya-yas out. At our school, they call it Spirit Week, which is appropriate since it totally breaks my spirit. I must conjure up appropriately themed ensembles for Field Day, Fourth of July in June Day, Crazy Hair Day, Twins Day, and Wacky Wednesday. For Pajama Day, they have to wear whatever they slept in — and that’s final.
2. Mandatory Parent Attendance
If you think you can skip a single one of the student showcases scheduled back to back to back at the most inopportune times, think again. You must show up to spring recital, awards day, sports finals, the talent show, and graduation, which seems to apply no matter what grade your kid’s in. If you don’t show, you are The Worst Parent Ever. So cancel that haircut, new client meeting, or lunch with the Dalai Lama. You are already booked!
3. Teacher Gifts
If anyone on the planet deserves a gift at the end of the school year, it’s the teachers. All 14 of them, plus the principal and the assistant principal, the front office admin, the security guard, the school nurse, and the list goes on. We’re incredibly lucky to have so many caring people to thank, but the melee around end-of-year gifts is enough to make me want to stab my eyes out. After dealing with the bazillion emails about the “suggested” donation for the class gift, I get all competitive with the overachieving parents who give each teacher an additional, personal gift. You can bet your bloomers I’m not letting anyone show us up (again), so this year we’re giving the teachers monogramed boxer shorts decorated with paint pens by the 5-year-old. Just kidding (not really).
What’s the deal with jamming 17 parties into the last five days of school? There are classroom parties, pool parties, graduation parties, goodbye parties, welcome parties, some sort of fundraising party, and always a birthday party — or four — for the summer kids before school lets out. Listen, I’m huge fan of parties — the grown-up kind. Prepping for, contributing to, and schlepping to and from all these kid parties turns me into a very grouchy woman.
All of the above celebrations require copious amounts of food, beverages, kid corralling, themed décor, and coordination. While the teachers are angels on earth, they are worn out and just want a beer. They can’t handle this level of debauchery on their own. Enter the volunteers. I swear every year I’m only going to sign up for one job, but how can I refuse to pick up the rainbow balloon arch when I’m already hauling 50 pounds of ice, 200 hotdogs, and an assortment of vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free cupcakes to school?
6. Last-Minute Projects
Why do teachers assign hands-on class projects at the end of the year? Last year, my middle school daughter spent three nights constructing a diorama for her Spanish class. It involved neon plasticine, glitter glue, a miniature soccer ball, crushed tortilla chips, and a looping audio of “Gooaaalll!” Guess who had to stay up late to mold clay into decent-looking sports fans? Not me. My diorama days are long gone. Fend for yourself, kid.
7. All the Sh*t That Comes Home
I’m referring to the joint science project your kid’s “friends” decided he could take home, the year’s worth of “artwork,” all the random pencil stubs, broken pens, dried-out highlighters, and eraser nubs; the loose leaf paper, graph paper, construction paper, tracing paper; the tattered notebooks, unused notebooks, and other kids’ notebooks; the crumpled tissues, smelly lunch bags, and unwashed gym shorts that gets dumped in your doorway after that final day of school. Seriously, what are we supposed to do with this stuff? I want to throw it all away, but that’s probably not what good moms do because what if there’s a keepsake memory buried deep down in all the crap? Last year, I shoved the full garbage bag my eighth-grader brought home into the garage. I’m pretty sure it’s still there.
8. Another Year Has Gone By
By that last day of school, I’m a hot mess. I’m bone tired, my fingers are still purple from applying a questionable amount of hair dye on my kindergartner, and I never want to eat another grilled item again. Just when I’m about to let out an ecstatic whoop, I take a good long look at my babies who aren’t babies anymore and I lose it. Instead of shrieking with joy on my way out of the parking lot, I’m crying into my steering wheel because where does the time go?!
The end of the school year may run me ragged, but give me a couple weeks home with the kids and I know I’ll be counting down the days until it starts again. Meanwhile, pass the wine. I deserve it.