Today is the last day of school. It was a long year — made longer by the 11 snow days that my county used. I’d like to think that Monday will automatically slow down, that we will ease into summer, but I have a Memorial Service and summer camp for the younger ones and the next session of barbell and yoga starts with a donation class raising money for at-risk youth in Baltimore. So, I’ll keep you posted when my family and I do slow down.
Last month — May — kicks my butt every year. (Picture below) You’ll notice the photo is somewhat blurry. That’s because May ZOOMS. Every day, no hyperbole, has at least three things happening. And that’s just what is scheduled. The lacrosse games and practices, the field trips to zoos and historic cities and estuaries and class picnics at school because the weather is finally cooperating. Planting the garden and the gymnastics so the girls will stop climbing the outside of my stairs…it goes on.
So, please forgive me for not writing.
But, today is the last day of school. For the past week the children have been bringing home artwork and thick science notebooks full of big science-y words and diagrams of ladybugs growing from larvae and pottery that has been glazed and painted and math workbooks with numerical scribbling, and certificates. All kinds of certificates, especially for my 5th grader. And I felt such pride in my children and warmth for their teachers. I wanted to hug everyone and scream, “WE MADE IT.”
And then these things happened to make me question the reality of whether we’d made it or not.
First, my son. He’s ‘graduating’ from 5th grade, this past year having been preparation for middle school. Yet, FAILED at picnicking. I invited him to a picnic. General schedule was followed in that people arrived, set food on one table, dessert on another, drinks in a cooler. All routine. After about 20 minutes of socializing there is a congregation. Sometimes a speech. In this case a prayer. Lines form and go down the table, plates are filled. I helped the two younger children, checked that my son had a plate (he did), asked if he needed anything (he rolled his eyes), I sat with two younger children and some moms.
Two hours later, thunder begins. Adult scuttle around packing up the food and folding the chairs. My son, as I’m carrying our Tupperware in one hand and our chairs in the other, says, “But I didn’t get any dessert.”
So I stop the woman (I didn’t know her name) who’d brought the best dessert. Strawberries with the tops cut off, stuffed with cream and topped with a fresh blueberry. I stop this woman and ask if, please, my son could have some of her dessert. My two youngest have also run over to the dessert table and fetched the only thing left: oatmeal cookies, to offer to my son. To both, my son mutters, “Never mind” and stalks away.
In the car my son, who is supposed to have been maturing this past year, screams: THE PARTY DIDN’T EVEN FEED ME.
Me: But you had a plate.
Him: Only chips.
Him: Because I didn’t want to wait in line.
Me: Why didn’t you go back later?
Him: I did. Everyone was cleaning up.
Me: That was 2 hours later.
Him: I don’t know that. I don’t have a watch.
So, there you go. The party is somehow an entity that puts people in high chairs and spoon feeds them, I guess. But, that’s nothing compared to what the laundry basket can do….
My daughter is finishing 7th grade. A young adult now. Handles herself in school, rides horses, responsible. And when she came home from her riding lesson, she joined the younger kids and me in the playroom where we were painting. Not long after, she realizes that she got paint all over the leg of her riding pants.
Me: Hurry, wash them off before it stains.
She gets up and disappears. About ten minutes later she comes back wearing different clothes.
Me: Did the paint come out?
Her: (quizzical look) How should I know?
Me: What do you mean?
Her: What do you mean?
Me: Where are the pants?
Her: I quick took them off and put them in the laundry bin, like you said.
Me: What do you think happens after you put them in the bin? That they are automatically clean? That you put them in and they come back out folded?
Her: You don’t have to be mean.
The riding pants were indeed in the laundry bin, spreading paint onto someone else’s white sock. I showed her the stain spray, ran the load. The riding pants were saved. So was the sock
My children have had an important year. They’ve learned many things. There is, apparently, still much to be learned.
I wish you (and your children) the best this summer!