Monday, January 05, 2009

Back to you

Finally, the much-anticipated holiday season is over. The tree is at the dump; the decorations, neatly packed in their rightful boxes in the attic. There are no more pastry-and-eggnog-laden parties that leave me with shrunken pants (how does that happen?), and no more family gatherings that conclude with our having to back up a U-Haul to the front porch in order to get all of our stuff home.

But most importantly, the kids are back at school. It was a long, long two weeks, my friends.

The school year involves an endless cycle of trade-offs between parents and teachers. From early September to late November, parents revel in the knowledge that they have nearly 10 weeks to be back to a normal routine after the long summer break. But all too soon, Thanksgiving brings many things for the teachers to be thankful for: namely, four studentless days. This is followed by four blissful weeks when parents can shop for the upcoming gift-giving season without such annoyances as dealing with little people yanking things off the shelves at Target, proclaiming that they need these toys and cannot possibly wait until December 25th, can't you see that, you horrible, horrible mother?

Before you know it, Christmas is upon us. And no one has more feelings of joy and peace than the teachers, who you can hear fa-la-la'ing from miles away as they skip to their cars at the end of the last school day before winter vacation. But parents finally get to breathe a little easier on New Year's Day — that time for us to rejoice, refresh, and resolve to make damn sure we get our kids to school on time the next morning. Maybe even a little early, so we can grab a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts afterwards...and curl up into the fetal position in a booth, sobbing with relief.

After what seems like three hours, it's time for February vacation. You see, school administrators seem to feel that our kids need periodic breaks — and lots of them. Apparently, five weeks after the 10-day winter break, it's presumed that my kindergartener is already overwhelmed with tracing the alphabet and playing bingo and gluing macaroni products on construction paper, which, as you can imagine, can be so exhausting.

It's interesting that April vacation always seems to begin directly after the springtime classroom party — you know, that fun-filled day when the teachers stuff our kids full of sugar until their little bodies are almost audibly twanging as they run amok, then pile them into buses (with treat bags...for the ride!), and send them straight home to us, ensuring that those seven days we spend alone with them get off to a fabulous start. Make no mistake about it, this is their passive-aggressive way of socking it to us parents because they're already dreading that marathon stretch between April vacation and the start of their long-awaited three-month break. But that's okay. We manage to get a certain amount of satisfaction when we come back in late April and taunt them with our smirky, knowing smiles that say, “They're all yours until mid-June, sucker. And by the way, I fed them Laffy Taffy for breakfast.”

Strangely, when that final school day in June comes, we welcome our children home for summer vacation with open arms because...well, the warmth and sunshine clearly makes us all kinds of crazy. But after a few weeks full of such fun-filled activities as visiting parks, going to the beach, and nearly manic chasing of the ice cream truck, we're done. Kaput. Finito. And this feeling of doneness occurs even sooner if you take an early family vacation to somewhere like Sesame Street Village or Storyland. Those sorts of things should only be planned for very late August so that we can mentally survive the experience by closing our eyes and conjuring up soon-to-be-real images of children with new clothes and backpacks walking into a large building with a flag.

So, in direct accordance with The Cycle, I pulled up for drop-off at my sons' school today on their first day back, giddy and euphoric (me, not them). When I spotted their teachers, I found myself shoving the boys gently toward them, impatiently muttering, “Here. Take these.” The teachers, looking refreshed and relaxed, smiled with understanding and led them away as I leaped back into my minivan Dukes-of-Hazzard-style and burned rubber out of the parking lot. I didn't want to be late for my appointment with my old friends Peace and Quiet. After all, I only have five weeks to enjoy them.


Anonymous MandyS01 said...

I am so with you on this entry, Karen!!! Of course we went and ruined our peace and quiet by adopting a puppy. Sigh.

On the way home from school yesterday, Zack whined and whined about how its soooooo long until the day off of school for MLK. One day in school and he's already whining about how long it is until the next vacation. I nearly hit the roof.

9:05 AM  

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