It is Friday…and school, officially, ends on Thursday of next week. Except it doesn’t, really. Tuesday through Thursday are final exam days…so the other kids in J’s classroom will not be returning to school next week. After a phone call that lasted approximately 20 minutes, J’s teacher and I agreed on an alternate plan for J. She hadn’t thought, she told me, of how J might take the news that school is over, and with the flurry of activity that comes at the tail-end of the year and her own children’s multiple activities, we didn’t get a chance to converse about this…so we did it…TODAY.
My schedule, so carefully constructed over the course of the week, is about to undergo plastic surgery. I cannot guarantee that it will look pretty or that it will even look like itself, but…circumstances force my hand and here I go again. At first, as I read the note in J’s comm book, I felt dizzy and like I needed to sit down and put my head between my knees (assuming, for the millionth time in my life) “crash position.” Like a person who has just realized they’re old, I feel like saying “but I thought I’d have more time.” However, and this is my saving grace, I am well aware that the milk has been spilt and I can’t cry over it.
J being J, closure of a sort is needed. I negotiated that closure with his teacher and, hopefully, our plan will work well. This is what I came up with: on Tuesday morning (since Monday is a holiday,) Dada will take J to school wearing his “last day of school shirt.” He would have worn this today if I’d been told the kids were having their party, but I cannot flog a woman who has a rather large brood to look after on top of the classroom full of J and company for not writing this down. J’s is, after all, ONE out of several comm books she has to update.
J will go to school early on Tuesday, wearing his shirt, carrying pastries and the thank-you notes he’s been working on for his teacher and mentors. They will have a little Farewell ’til Fall breakfast, and I will then come to pick him up at around 9:30. This will give me a chance to do the one thing the doctor asked me to do and which I’ve been postponing until it can’t be postponed any longer: I’m having blood drawn. This prospect is so thrilling and so amusing that I can barely speak of it…so I will go, extend my arm, be pricked with a large needle, give some of my lifeblood to several vials that will then be put through all sorts of tests and, the crowning glory of my morning, I will collect J from school and summer will begin… Believe me, I count myself lucky: I could have a root canal scheduled for that morning.
I know that J will have a bit of a hard time processing this change in schedule because he likes things tied up neatly at the end of a process. That’s where the shirt comes in; a garment that would make Jimmy Buffett look like he’s wearing business attire is absolutely necessary for J to end the school year. It is also necessary that we play Alice Cooper’s School’s Out in the car…loudly.
While I was talking to his teacher on the phone, J lurked around, his eyes wide like saucers and his ears pricked up. I’m sure that, on some level, he felt like something ended today, but not quite for him. The regular elements he requires from a last day of school were missing, and that’s what I aim to remedy with this short stay at school Tuesday morning. Over the weekend, we will stand in front of the board and populate it with different activities we can do over the week, and we will only put the BACKPACK up for Tuesday. That should be enough…that is what J expects and, pushy mother that I am, that’s what I intend to give him.
J’s teacher told me that she hadn’t really thought how he’d take the end of school. It is, after all, the first year she’s had him as a student, and one can’t expect her to juggle bowling pins, do origami, knit a sweater and anticipate everything. Teachers, bless them, have enough to do with OUR children and, on top of it, have to go home to their own lives. They never really disconnect from the job they do because they go home to children, and structure, and planning… So I don’t fault her, and I celebrate the fact that she is willing to help me help J transition more smoothly than he would have if he’d heard “ok, you’re done, buddy…it’s over!” when he came home from school today.
This is a trivial matter. A crisis that can easily be negotiated and averted, and -I hope- the plan we’ve concocted will do that neatly. Just like we transitioned into the new school, new teacher, new friends, new routine in August, we will now stop the flow that we’ve become accustomed to and move on to the next thing.
Am I ready? Half an hour ago I wasn’t, I admit. I was a little nervous about the suddenness of this schedule change. I was ready to be leisurely about everything until Thursday, when the sinking feeling of a whole summer of keeping J entertained while he keeps me on my toes hit me. Now I’m cool. Now I’m feeling capable and efficient.
Oh, I WILL hyperventilate during the course of this ‘not as busy’ season, but that’s what I signed on for when I took on parenting. The important thing is that J transitions as well as he possibly can, and when I think about what J needs, it takes the edge off my fears and nerves. The kid’s gonna be alright…that’s what I do best.