Pardon me if I’m a little rusty today. I just woke up from a spontaneous face-plant nap in my own bed. After the kids went to school, I went up there to put a book away, (because I had fallen asleep reading it over my breakfast), and well, the nap just happened. I’m taking my sleep (and my reading and my eating and my toilette) anywhere and anytime I can get it these days. You see,
And every parent I know just went, “Oh, HELL yes. I hear you, girl.” And every non-parent reading this is thinking maybe they’d like to go back to reading The Onion, scrolling Facebook, or artfully rearranging their foyers, or whatever you people do. (Please note, the Domestic Flautist has no problem with the so-called “child-free”. I have many friends who are child-free. I invite them to my parties and notice them eying my decidedly non-Feng-Shui foyer. ) So, before you go back to roasting your own coffee beans or whatever hipster thingy you were doing before you accidentally stumbled upon this blog post, I’ll just tell you this:
May is just like hell-week in your college frat. For parents.
And I’m going to whine and rant about it a lot here.
You’re right, this post is not for you, (unless you are having a weak moment and would like some reinforcement of your child-free ideals. In that case, go for it.) Also, if you have young children, you have different issues than those of us with school-aged kids, and you will not relate, and it’s possible this post will frighten you and make you want to go hide under the covers with a bag of Goldfish stolen from the snack cabinet. It’s best if you move along too. And if you’d like to have kids one day, just consider this a cautionary tale. At the end, you’ll shake your head, and probably decided I’m exaggerating anyway. If you’re already pregnant, you’re not reading this anyway, because you are knee deep in posts about how to child-proof your entire home, garage, and work-space using organic tennis balls.
So, the reason I just took a face-plant nap in my bed (and I suspect I’m not alone), (I mean, I KNOW I’m alone in the house right now. I don’t suspect there is someone else say, face-planting in the basement. I just mean that we’re all in this together, parents, right?), is that every FRICKING activity my kids are involved in has a CULMINATING EVENT in May. We’ve had the karate belt-testing, the piano competition, the piano recital, the band concert, the end-of-year party for CCD (Catholic Sunday School), and more that I can’t remember, because the band concert was last night, and then my son had algebra homework he hadn’t done and my husband had to stay up and help him, which meant I had to do the end-of-day chores alone plus scoop the cat boxes, which is my son’s chore, but I feel bad for him because he’s a bit overwhelmed right now with THINGS TO DO, and so I did that chore for him because I’m a good parent, and I knew that I could possibly go back to sleep (or take a spontaneous face-plant) in the morning, whereas he or my husband cannot. Oh, and in the midst of going out late every night for a culminating event (oh yeah, I forgot the Awards Assemblies), we are being reminded constantly that we must MAKE SURE OUR CHILDREN GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP so they perform well on their end-of-year assessments, which in our state are the aptly named “SOL’s”. The thing is, if we’re ALREADY awarding them for their year’s good work, we can’t be THAT concerned about their performance, right? Does that make sense? I can’ tell when I’m being anachronistic when I’m this sleep-deprived.
And in the midst of this, we have the usual spring-cleaning that has to happen, AND the planning that must take place for these ceremonies, these tests, these end-of-year CULMINATING EVENTS. Just yesterday, I went to the grocery store and bought 80 INDIVIDUAL BAGS OF PRETZELS and delivered them to my daughter’s school. The pretzels are to be distributed during SOL testing, because someone, somewhere did some research that shows that kids are less stressed about these tests if they crunch, chew, or suck on something, which leaves me wanting to tell the legislators who enacted No Child Left Behind to suc . . . . . .
But I digress. That happens A LOT in May. The thing is, I LOVE going to my children’s concerts and seeing them receive awards. And I don’t mind a bit about picking up snacks for my daughter and classmates, especially if it’s going to help transition them through a stressful testing season. And I like helping to plan these little class parties. I think they’re important. ESPECIALLY in our currently test-driven education system. We want them to love learning. Not fear tests. And as a flute teacher, I have a spring recital, because the students need an end-goal to work toward. And it’s important for their parents to see what they’ve accomplished, and for them to see their parents there supporting them. All of these are wonderful. And I’m truly afraid that if I complain too much about these May events, the schools will eliminate them, in favor of keeping everyone rested and focused on their testing.
Testing may drive the curriculum for now. But these culminating events, and the activities and classes that lead to them, are what drive our kids.
So we’ll limp along, we parents. We’ll help them review their test material while our spouses (if we are so fortunate) fix dinner. We’ll take walks and talk about the Empire of Mali, which I never learned about in school, and we’ll be fascinated at what our kids can tell us. And we’ll sit down, exhausted after a day of work or cleaning or errands and shuttling kids, and help with the algebra homework. And we’ll get dressed up and clap and smile and take photos when the middle school band takes the stage, when the dancers leap, and when our boy or girl dips their head to receive a medal, or makes a goal.
If we can afford it, and even if we can’t, we’ll keep putting them in sports and activities outside of school to replace the activities that have been cut and lost due to extended time for academic classes. We’ll get them there. We’ll get the pretzels, the mints, the team snack, the paperwork, the teacher gifts. (Note to self: get the teacher gifts.)
So, when you see us looking dazed and confused, and maybe a little frazzled around the edges, have a heart. Maybe ask if we’ve eaten, or if we’d like a drink of vodk-, I mean, water, or an Advil, or offer us a couch on which to do a face-plant. We’re exhausted. And in love with our kids. And we’ll do it again next year.
Now, what have I done with that summer camp paperwork . . . ?