The real end of school
Posted on May 16th, 2013
ccording to the calendar, school isn’t over for another week. But as I sit in my car outside of the elementary school, wolfing down lunch out of a bag in preparation for an afternoon spent inside the classroom along with my fourth grader, let me assure you: the calendar is a damn liar.
Because when school is actually in session, your children go there but you do not. Perhaps you have a job to go to, or groceries to buy or doctor’s appointments to make. I don’t know. The point is that you have places to be that aren’t your child’s elementary school. And this makes sense because you are not an eight-year-old. No matter what the calendar may promise (“May 22: Last day of school! Half-day!), it is lying. The closer we edge to that final bell, the less “going to school” is taking place for your children; in inverse proportion, however, the more of your “going to school” is.
Take this week for example. Roy has three performances of his class play. I’ve attended one, his father attended another and, today, Marcel will even be able to make the third. Friday is the school’s play day, perhaps the most highly anticipated day of the entire year, but an event that cannot happen without the involvement of parent and student volunteers alike. I know I’ll be there—just like I’m going to be there for the second grade class luncheon and the final assembly on the actual last day of school.
I’m not sure why I continue going through the motions, really: getting clothes out for people, acting like we need to be out the door on time, asking if people have homework. Yesterday, Marcel told me that he was watching Soul Surfer at middle school. Really? Because that seems like something that you could do just as easily at home.
And I haven’t even mentioned the upcoming sixth grade “field trip” to our hometown amusement park. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for that killer group discount, but if there are either (a) rollercoasters involved in an activity or (b) the activity requires my presence to give my child a sense of support or validation or the required item for the buffet line, let’s just call whatever we’ve got going on here what it actually is: not school.
I guess that when I’m sitting in my car, sweaty and trying to get the sauce from the falafel off of my shirt before I go into to be supportive of Roy in his last performance, I find myself longing most for the advent of a year-round school calendar. With more breaks and an abbreviated summer, it seems like school could end when it needed to (read: oftener) and no one would have to go around pretending for two to three weeks that it’s still going on when it clearly is not.
(And with a year-round school calendar, I could finally eat my falafel in my car when it wasn’t so damn hot outside. See? Everyone would win!)∗