It is June, and I have been faking it for a while now. Probably since September, if we’re being honest, but it’s all getting real now.
There’s something about these Spring months, with all of the concerts and play offs and class parties and tryouts (for FALL, for God’s sake…remember when tryouts happened the week before practice started?). There are field days and Celebrations of Learning. And…I mean…I get it. I get why we couldn’t celebrate their learning way back in September when I had hopes and dreams about organization and chores AND a color coded schedule that filled me with pride. I’m pretty sure it’s because they hadn’t actually learned anything yet….But still…it’s all at once and it’s A LOT.
I was doing pretty well until Teacher Appreciation Week. That’s a full WEEK of appreciation. Now, I do not begrudge the teachers their week, they surely do deserve that and much, much more. (I AM thinking that maybe we could get a few hundred thousand mothers together to expand Mother’s Day into Mother’s week…but I digress). What I’m saying here is that I ended up being a class parent again this year. I don’t know how this happens. I volunteered once, 10 years ago, and not since. But every year I get a phone call, text or email asking me if I would please help. And, because they say ‘please’ and they sound a little desperate, I say yes. I have high hopes every September, but then, by October, I remember that I’m actually terrible at this job.
And so every September I meet with the teacher. I tell the teacher that there will be no surprise bulletin boards, nicely decorated doors or adorable gifts made lovingly by the hands of every single child in the class. No murals carved out of fruit for the class party. What there will be, I tell them, is a cash exchange. I will take money from the parents and I will buy things for them with it. Mostly gift cards. So….they might as well tell me what they like, otherwise they’ll be staring down a fruitcake at Christmas that DEFINITELY violates the schools “no alcohol” policy and is also disgusting. You’re welcome. And so they give me a list of favorite stores, restaurants and we part ways. “I can do this”, I think…”I CAN.” And we roll through the holidays, their birthday and we come to Teacher Appreciation Week. And I have ALREADY used all of the information they gave me on the first two events and I find myself staring down a week of trying to make every day special.
It rolled around again this year, and I sent out an email to the parents in the class outlining my plan for the week. And then I send out a text SOS to a friend explaining that THERE IS NO PLAN. And I get back this:
You know…there’s a certain beauty in throwing up your hands and admitting that you have no idea what you’re doing. That, on a scale of 1 to 10, you’re pegging the 11 on the desperation scale. That you’re TOTALLY making it up as you go along and guessing all day every day. And, maybe you’re a pretty good guesser, but, also, you’re running out of guesses.
That beauty comes in the form of friends who will help. Always. Because they’re awesome. And also, they’re not intimidated by trying to put together a gift basket. They know how to arrange tissue paper in a way that makes it look nice…instead of looking like it came out of the recycling bin. They have themes and ideas and they make things cute. With ribbons. Also, apparently, for some folks, the sight of an empty bulletin board does NOT make them break into a cold sweat. WHO KNEW?
I’m reasonably confident that we’re all going to make it through the end of this school year. Ten years of end-of-school-year experience tells me this. Ditto for the summer. And the next year too. My solemn vow for next year is NOT to have it all together. I have a hunch that will never happen. It’s to throw my hands up sooner. To send the SOS when I need to. And to respond to those SOS texts, too…to pass on the same love and support that gets thrown my way every single day. I am that lucky.
And also, not to be a room parent ever again. It’s been a decade.