Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Last day of school

I haven’t made presents for the kids’ teachers or picked up a gift card for the bus driver. Our month hasn’t included a single classroom visit for student poetry readings or choral presentations. No one has handed me a paper bag overflowing with art projects to somehow find room for around the house or in the basement.

So in some ways, it doesn’t quite feel like the last day of school. All those rituals of the earlier years seem to have tapered off. The kids have written their own end-of-year thankyou notes to their teachers without much prompting from me, and other parents have assured me that bus driver gifts are not typical in high school. Holly has described to me a couple of her final projects, and Tim is studying hard for exams, so I’ll just have to trust them that these are the end-of-year rituals that mark middle school and high school.

Despite the relative lack of fanfare, it’s good to see the school year drawing to a close, not because it wasn’t a fine year for all of us but because I can’t help feeling a twinge of victory at having pulled it off.

As this year began, I had so many apprehensions. High school was a whole new world to us, and I fretted over everything from how Tim would ever get to the bus stop for the pre-dawn, 6:40 a.m. pick-up to how I would learn to navigate the online parental communication system that offers parents information on grades, absences, and all other critical details of which we should be keeping track.
And even though middle school felt like a known quantity for us, I knew it would be different for Holly than for Tim, and wondered whether she would continue having secure friendships and keep up reliably with her homework.

But somehow it all worked out. Tim proved himself able to wake up at 5:30 a.m., shower, and make his own breakfast in order to be ready for a ride to the bus stop by 6:30. He interacted with new teachers whom I didn’t know and met kids different from those he’d gone to school with since kindergarten. He joined the freshman football team, made a few new friends, and earned High Academic Honors for the year. Holly wrote short stories, executed science projects, researched Afghanistan, helped to organize a fundraiser, and even joined the Ultimate Frisbee team.

I’m grateful that it was a safe and happy school year, given that school years have the potential to be neither safe nor happy. Yet I’m not sorry to see it ending, especially as the snow days last winter gave us plenty of extra time to enjoy the school year as it drew out through the end of June. Even though my own vacation from work doesn’t come until well into August, I’ll get plenty of enjoyment out of the kids’ time off from school. No bag lunches to prepare; no paperwork to fill out for their field trips and activities; and best of all, no more pre-5 a.m. wake-ups for me until September.

When I was my kids’ age, I loved the feeling of leaving school at the end of the year. I never imagined it could be nearly as fun for an adult to see the school year end. And maybe it’s not quite the same. But it’s pretty good. Even if I won’t have the long lazy summer days of reading or hanging out with friends that my kids can now choose to enjoy, I’ll still benefit from the change of pace. And from the contented recollections of a great school year gone by.

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