End of Year…End of Days.

For today’s fun…

Let’s talk about parties. And awards programs. And music concerts. And field day. And all the other just before summer, last month of school, really totally necessary celebratory crap that us parents have to squeeze in during the four weeks prior to our children being set free.

Because, you know, ta6cf5582f82380d1bdf0bb13f1489650he end of the year isn’t enough of a crunch already with the teachers trying to cram in six chapters of social studies, plus projects and tests and exams and homework and well, stuff.

At our school, when we get into that last month, I pretty much know it is time to clear my calendar and face the horrible, hard truth that whatever kid-free time I have left is no longer mine to call my my own. Because every single school/activity/group will have things. Things that require my time, my energy, my willingness to spend money, and above all, my presence, because apparently if you miss even the slightest, smallest event…your children will grow up to be social deviants, forever scarred by your absence during class party #438 and other parents will notice and point out that, hey, we didn’t see you at the thing…

Yes. That happened. Not the social deviant part. Yet. But there was some noticing and pointing out.

End of Year…End of Days.

I suck at being End of Days Mom. Really, I do. I’m bad enough during the regular school year with my very moderate participation, but once the weather warms up…online sign-ups send me into a deep state of avoidance and procrastination. Reminder notes from school multiply on the counter. Field trip chaperoning, teacher appreciation contributing, party helping, concert clapping…I’ll do it all…eventually. But I won’t like any of it.

Also, I fucking hate field day.

11426192_10205612706670409_82641071910971261_nReally. I strongly dislike it. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to offend anyone, because the humans who plan our field day should be sainted with whatever sainthood comes from organizing hundreds of kids and color coordinated parent volunteers and activities into a joyous afternoon awesomeness. I mean this sincerely. Our field day rocks, and I’m lucky to have my kids at such a great school with such dedicated parents.

But I still hate it. Mostly because I don’t understand why everything we do for our kids has to be such a big, giant blowout of perfectly planned fun. Remember when the gym teacher was in charge of field day? And it was an actual field day…with relay races and kickball and the mile run and if you were lucky you got one of those red Popsicles at the end? It was probably hot and everyone was thirsty and sometimes it was great and sometimes it sucked? Field day isn’t like that anymore.  We still have kickball. The kids just play in between visiting the bounce houses and the ice cream truck and the water station and the other things that are not sporting events.

When did everything have to become a party? More important, why does everything have to have a party? Does the end of every single thing our children have ever done have to end in a party? And not just a “we’ll eat cupcakes and do a craft party,” but a party party. Like with themes. And color coordinated plates. (I am not kidding. I once offended a class party mom by not bringing matching tablecloths to the Christmas shindig.) It is crazy. My daughter’s kindergarten year, the End of Days party was a picnic. For the End of Days class gift, the teacher requestedimage1 buckets. Then she requested a list of tiny toy trinkets to fill the buckets with. Chalk. Bubbles. Bouncy balls. Squirt guns. And more! Every kid went home with a keepsake bucket of toys from the parents…er…teacher.

We won’t even discuss the year I made 65 water balloons…

Did my kids have fun with all of this? Absolutely. I’m sure they had a great time and will remember all of it. Especially that time the tablecloths didn’t match.

My youngest kid’s teacher had a really novel idea of how to celebrate the End of Days this year. The kids are going to take their lunches outside. And eat on the grass. And then they are going to play. On the playground. 

No parent volunteers. No tropical luau plates. No horrible crafting website individual fruit sculptures. Her only request was that if someone had time (if someone had time!) they bring in some cut up watermelon for a treat.

Pure fucking genius. Because really, what could be better than extra time in the fresh air, playing with your friends, on a playground, on the last full day of school?

End of Days. Complete with parties, and more parties, and whatever random celebrations for whatever sport/group/activity your child belongs to within or outside of school. Plus awards programs. And spring music programs. And open houses and ice cream socials and Grandparents/Special Person day and and that one last fundraiser. And fucking field day. And any other festive occasion that can be crammed into the space of a few short weeks, because hey, we couldn’t do any of this during the other eight months of school.

I suck at being End of Days Mom. Because all of this…it is just too much. I want my kid to remember all these special childhood events. But she probably won’t. Because the 2nd grade concert will probably take place on the same day as a field trip the night before a class party and a school assembly and all those memories will get blurred into a fuzzy blob of too many things. With ice cream, of course.

Also, I’m tired. Even if this year I don’t have to fill up 65 water balloons. But I’m pretty sure there are a couple of sign-ups I missed. And there’s still field day. Fucking field day.

“You know, you suck at comforting people.”

For today’s fun, we’re going to talk about all those fun conversations you get to have as a parent when your kid is going through something crappy.

“You know, you suck at comforting people.”

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This. From my tween daughter, who is probably right. She was having a lot of drama and complaining about something that was going to be awful, and my response was this:

“Yeah..it will probably be horrible. Or it won’t. I guess you’ll find out tomorrow.”

This was met with the typical melodramatics. “What? Are you kidding me? You can’t just say it will be okay?”

Unfortunately, no. I cannot. I cannot just say it will be okay, or you will do fine, or it won’t be terrible and you will love it and everything will be sunshine and rainbows and unicorn poop because I cannot guarantee those things now, or for the rest of your life.

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Also, my kid didn’t let me finish. Because the full response was this, which I believe to be hard, yet supportive in the most truthful way.

“Yeah..it will probably be horrible. Or it won’t. I guess you’ll find out tomorrow. And if it isn’t as bad as you think, that is a good thing. And if it sucks, well, then you’ll get through it and it will be over and maybe you’ll be a little stronger in the end.” 

I could have just lied to her. I could have said that it would be fine and it would be okay and she would do great and all that, but really, the truth of the matter was that running timed sprints to a loud buzzer in middle school gym class while getting hollered at by a teacher who fancies himself a glorified drill sergeant was probably going to be somewhat disagreeable, if not downright miserable, for my non-athletic physical education hating sixth grader.

So I told the truth. Because gym class, like many things in life, including friendship woes, financial problems, mean bosses, and other such calamities, can and will suck.

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I promise I am not trying to raise a generation of cynics. Nor am I wanting my kiddos to grow up with a glass half-empty outlook on life. I want to raise them to be realistic. I want to raise them to be objective. Most important, I want to raise them to be strong, and resilient. I would rather have them going into a difficult situation with the awareness that yeah, it may be hard, but they will be able to handle it, get through it, learn from it, and grow from it.

Case in point. A recent death in our family, the first of someone close to us for my youngest, left her feeling that she did not want to attend the funeral because she would feel sad, and the people around her would be sad, and that would make her sorrow that much worse

I did not tell her that this wasn’t true. I did not tell her it would not be hard, and that it would be fine. I told her she was right. It would make her sad. Our family would be sad, and yes, that would make it more difficult. But it was important to go, because we would be supporting our loved ones, and because later, when it was over, she would be glad she got to say goodbye and help celebrate that person’s life. So she went. And it was not easy. It was probably as tough as she thought it would be. There were tears. There was grief. But she got through it with lots of hugs, and in the end, was glad she went because she was surrounded by family and because it was the right thing to do.

So yeah. I might suck at comforting people. Really. And this may or may or not be the right parenting approach. I truly have no idea. Only time, teenage rebellion, and the possible need for middle-aged therapy will tell.

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So I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing.

Oh, and the results of that terrible, horrible gym class day? This:

“It was worse than bad. And the teacher was diabolical. But everyone hated it, so I just did it, and got it over with and I was really glad when it was done. But at least I didn’t quit. Or cry. So that’s a good thing.”