The end of the school year: a time for cleaning, for reflection, for tears, for reconciliation, and for letting go. It’s also a time for some of the nuttiest nuttiness that education has to offer.
Here’s my Top 5 End-of-Year Crazy List
1. Graduation Gowns: They are typically black and usually 100% polyester, yet we distribute them freely to students, teachers, and administrators to wear in the June heat. Somewhere, the accountants at Josten’s (in their centrally air conditioned cubicles) are tallying up all the money that parents and schools spend on this nonsense, and those bean-counters are laughing their arid, cotton-clad butts off. That’s crazy.
2. 101 Awards Assemblies: I believe in recognition for a job well done, and if I had to pick which awards should go the way of the mastodon, I couldn’t, but there’s something wrong when one of my primary thoughts as my younger son graduates from high school and leaves me with an empty nest to pursue his dreams is, “Thank God I never have to sit through another two-hour-plus sports awards ceremony.” That’s crazy.
3. The Valedictorian/Salutatorian Thing: In a society that has seemingly decided that success can be determined in many ways, we still single out the mathematically highest achieving kids at a ceremony that should be collective and inclusive in its mindset. Most of these recipients are delightful kids whom I adore, but I’ve also seen parents and students do some fairly despicable things to get kids one of these titles, so honorability is not necessarily required. We’ll never be able to get rid of these designations, though, because the public will say we’re anti-American Socialists committing acts of domestic terrorism in not wanting these two students singled out (even though those same two kids have already been singled out in 101 ways at the 101 awards assemblies in #2). That’s crazy.
4. Pot-Luck Luncheons: Just as we’re trying to shake off school responsibilities and be free and loose for the summer, we all sign up to bring something to the end-of-year luncheon. Because we are all in a crazed cleanup mode on those last days in scrambling to get everything done, whipping up our signature dish for the madding crowd makes no psychological sense to me, but I’ll do whatever you want for a chance at some fried chicken and banana pudding. I’ll cook something nice and put it in something cute and bring it to school on a day when I’ll be covered head to toe in classroom grime…because I want to eat the math lady’s pretzel salad without feeling the Guilt of the Non-Participant. That’s crazy.
5. Complaining about Snow Days: The same folks who rejoiced at each and every snow day back in January (and who chastised the superintendent of schools for not canceling school more often) are the exact same folks who now bemoan those days because of the time they add to the end of the school year. I tend to internally roll my eyes when people start the “These kids these days don’t realize there are consequences for their actions!” diatribes because they are typically the same people who do not accept that they need to pay the piper themselves. That’s crazy.
After reading this post, you may think that I loathe graduations, that I hate end-of-year luncheons, that I can’t stand awards, and so on. On the contrary—these are a few of my favorite things. But face facts: school is important and fun and stressful and nuts, and it leads to nutty behavior. Thank goodness that, when all is said and done, there’s love and children and friendship and children and good work and children (and pretzel salad) to see us through.
Ultimately, all of these things are fleeting: our kid’s school years, potluck lunches, graduations, awards of any kind, even people complaining about snow make-up days at the copy machine. Love them. Love them all. Sanity keeps us focused and keeps the school running on time, but the crazy—the frustrating, the hilarious, the controversial, the nonsensical, the pretzel salads—the crazy makes it a ride worth taking.