An End-of-Year Apology to Teachers

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 

Dear Teachers,

The end of the school year is almost upon us. As such, we feel it’s only fair to let you know that whatever happens – or doesn’t happen – these last few weeks are not to be taken personally.

It’s not you, it’s us. We promise.

At the beginning of the year, we’re so excited that it’s not summer anymore that our parental enthusiasm is at an all-time high. But by this time, it’s like the final legs of a marathon, and we’re lurching half-dead toward the finish line. We don’t mean to be so sluggish and unenthusiastic, but when the end is in sight, it’s harder than ever to endure the last little bit. You know the thing that makes people mess around at work all day on Fridays because they’re just over it? Yeah, that…


When school started, all apparel was fresh and new and un-faded and un-stained; it got hung up, laid out, smoothed down. We woke in plenty of time to ensure that faces were washed, hair was neatly styled, and teeth were brushed. But now the tiring regimen of tidiness has started to crumble. Please try not to be distracted by the bedhead, or the crust of dried toothpaste, or the fact that the shorts are wrinkled because we grabbed them out of the hamper (hey, we’re a little behind on the laundry, OK?). And don’t judge us by their holey shoes: we don’t want to buy new ones this late in the game.


Nutritionally balanced, varied, packed with love and care and sometimes an encouraging note: that describes our beginning-of-the-year lunches. But by now, we’re sending our kids with something they probably concocted themselves (PB&J with M&Ms on it? Whatever). Pre-packaged, low effort stuff is the key. We might throw in a spotty banana or a container of mandarin oranges just so no one will call the authorities.


If you’re looking for a project or assignment that shows thought, originality, and attention to detail, you may want to lower your standards a smidge. Because now that the weather’s getting nice, there are sports. And bajillions of birthday parties. And the biological drive of all children to play outside for as many hours of the day as possible. Between all of those things, we’re super swamped. Besides, getting the kids to focus on anything that doesn’t involve bikes, balls, or friends is like trying to stuff an octopus into a pair of pantyhose: really hard and totally sucky.

Backpacks and folders

Also – sorry if we’re slacking on the reading and/or signing of things we’re supposed to be reading and/or signing. It’s just that at this time of year, they’re bringing home All The Papers. Newsletters! Permission slips! Assignments! Certificates! Invitations! Reminders! We’re drowning in to-do lists. You’re OK with just a scribbled initial or two (written in crayon because who has the desire to search for a pen?) instead of a whole signature, right?


OK, so maybe we did sign up to bring a class treat for the end-of-year party – but that was in, like, September, when we still had some stamina left. Don’t think of our contributions as “Twinkies and Goldfish Crackers we grabbed from the pantry because we forgot it was our turn to bring treats” … think of them as “an eclectic assortment of sweet and savory snacks.” It’s all about perspective.

We know we aren’t the only ones who are tired. You’re tired too: anybody who wrangles a class full of children on the daily has got to be worn slick. It takes a lot of energy, and we’re all running on fumes. So let’s make an agreement, shall we? We’ll get them through the important stuff, like the standardized testing (enough sleep and a balanced breakfast on our end, and the actual testing on yours) – and then we’ll both agree to coast downhill until we arrive at the last day of school. You ignore the fact that our kids look like ragamuffins and haven’t turned in homework in a week, and we’ll turn a blind eye to the extra recesses and day-long Reading Rainbow marathons.

Look at it this way: it’ll give us all a much-needed head start on building our reserves of “give-a-damn” for next year.


Parents Everywhere

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