What Your Kids Need on the Last Day of School
I’m terrible at commemoration. Before Facebook, I didn’t even know end-of-year teacher gifts were a thing. I’m pretty sure my mom only took one first day of school picture, and that was on my actual first day of school as a kindergartener. I’m not even good at buying birthday presents, let alone planning special events to kick off the summer.
The end of the school year is so chaotic and busy and I’m not even positive I can pinpoint why. I know all the graduations are a part of it. Then there’s the 2 1/2 field trips you volunteered for in a 4 day span. Plus getting signed up for camps and then ballgame season is taking off as fast as you can say “What color socks was I supposed to buy?” Endings and beginnings collide in May and create a 23 car pile-up of events obliterating whatever you thought your “routine” was.
If you have a super cute chalkboard for your kids to hold for their end-of-year picture, that’s awesome. The rest of you, don’t worry about it. Give your offspring an extra hug and whisper how proud of them you are. Then put them on the bus. They know you love them.
If you’ve already made miniature loaves of banana bread for the bus driver and your carpool partner: excellent. The rest of you, the bus driver is getting paid and your fellow mom will take a heartfelt thank you. It’s fine. Next time you see her, reiterate again. Just make sure you sing her praises to your children. They are listening and paying attention to what it is to be a part of community.
There’s just only so much we can do in the hours left before the school year is officially over.
Trust me when I say the teachers are plenty excited about a break from 23 needy faces, and not so worried about what your child is going to bring them. The gift of not seeing your child’s face for a few weeks is gift enough. Trust me when I say your kids will be fine with one less photo of them at the end of the school year holding a sign. They are going to steal your phone and take 37 almost-identical selfies tomorrow afternoon when they get bored after 3 hours of summer break. It’s not like there will be no photos in history recording what they looked like this month.
It’s hard to let go of all our unmet Pinterest expectations.
But it’s time.
I’m giving you permission.
The teachers and bus drivers and your kids will be fine with a wave and a hug if that’s all you can pull together. Commemorate the day by sharing a Popsicle when you get home. Throw in a good talk about the highs and lows of their school year, even if it’s on the drive between school pick-up and the grocery store. Don’t beat yourself up for not making a balloon drop for when they walked in the door. I’ve never had a balloon drop for anything in 37 years and I’ve delivered 3 children and managed to stay married to one man for almost 16 years. If anyone in my house deserves a party, it’s me.
The closest I’ve gotten to commemorating the end of the school year is heading to Dairy Queen for blizzards on the last day of school. I think usually I celebrate with a nap. You don’t have to be as careless as I am, but drop all of your starry-eyed expectations at the door where your kids are piling up their bags-upon-bags of school supplies. They will still be there waiting for you, along with the piles of school supplies, in August.