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Surviving May and the end-of-the-school-year gantlet

POSTED June 1, 2017 7:30 a.m.
May Day! May Day!

Congratulations, parents, you survived another May.

You’ve come through the gantlet that is end-of-the year recitals, orchestra concerts, band concerts and middle-school musicals.

Award ceremonies. Senior graduation parties. Preschool graduation parties. Kindergarten graduation parties. College graduation parties. More sheet cake than you thought possible.

Prom. The Mormon kind and the regular kind, which are exactly the same, but now we have two dresses to find instead of one.

And banquets. Enough banquets to fill you to bursting.

Finals. Final projects. Science projects. End-of-the-year comprehensive tests. Advanced Placement exams. SATs and ACTs.

There are teacher gifts to think about, too, something creative and Pinteresty and meaningful that doesn’t have an apple image stamped on it somewhere.

You’ve dug under the bed and between couch cushions for the lost school library books. You’ve teased out the last few weeks of school with only pencil stubs and scrap paper. There are holes in the bottom of the backpacks. The lunchboxes have gone moldy. The school clothes are tight, stained and torn. (Hey, it’s fashionable!) The sneaker laces have frayed on the ends.

You’re too tired to care.

So are the teachers.

You started the school year packing lunches with five courses and a daily note written in calligraphy on a paper napkin. Now, at the end of the year, the kids get PB&J slapped on the two heels of bread, with a side of dried-out baby carrots and a bruised apple.

They’re too tired to care.

Because even though you started the year having everyone in bed by 7:30, summer is now taunting your kids right out the door, and they cannot be compelled to go to bed until the sun agrees, and the sun never agrees before 9 p.m.

Forget December. The hardest month to be a parent is May. You are stretched as wide as a spiderweb, trying desperately to catch the events as they fly by. You cling to a schedule that no longer agrees. You try to be disciplined with pen and paper when the air around you screams ice pops and pools.

But look at this — you’ve done it. You’ve come through another year. Somewhere in the corner a fiddler is playing “Pomp and Circumstance” just for you. You are rising to the podium to give your speech, to thank those teachers who have shepherded your children, the coaches and music instructors, to thank Target for helping you through the slime craze and the internet for guiding you through the Halloween parade and crazy-hair day.

Along the way a child has learned to read. Or passed calculus, a small miracle. Or made the high school football team, painted a self-portrait in exact likeness, memorized all 50 states and capitals, discovered that Shakespeare isn’t so bad.

You in turn have learned some good things. (Next school year, more freezer meals, fewer PTA responsibilities. Also, buy more glue sticks when they’re on sale.)

You have made it through May. You are dipping your toes into June, casting off the school calendar like an old backpack, and looking toward the yawning chasm of summer vacation with the hope of sunshine and family road trips.

And rest assured that when the sunburned days of September come rolling around and the swimsuits have faded and the flip-flops have worn through and you’ve eaten enough watermelon to turn pink, you’ll stand as tall as a newly sharpened pencil, ready to tackle the adventure that another school year brings.


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