It’s almost here — the end of the school year. We are now in the midst of that last hurrah of frenzied school activity before the lazy days of summer hit, the storm before the calm. I’m not sure life could be any busier than it is right now (ask me in mid-December and I may have a different opinion, however).
I’m not one to ever sleep during daylight hours, but the sight of the calendar at this time of year is enough to make me want to run back to bed and hide my swimming head under the covers. Each little square of the week on paper highlights the two, three or even four activities of the day, each one seemingly more important than the last.
It’s difficult to pick and choose or even prioritize with entries such as “school musical performance,” “first baseball game” and “field trip.” I remember how important these events felt to freckled and pigtailed little me and can still sense the warm and fuzzy feeling I had seeing my parents’ smiling faces in the crowd. I was sure that for weeks my mom and dad had looked as forward to my special days as I had and just knew they shared in the magical feeling that swirled around the auditorium, ball field, etc. as each event played out in perfect harmony.
If my parents ever did live out a fanciful version of end-of-the-school-year activities, I now realize it was at a time much further back than my memory bank allows. By the time I was singing my heart out while standing tall on my elementary school’s carpeted metal risers, I had a sister in junior high, a brother in pre-school and another brother in diapers. I doubt my parents had a whole lot of free moments to daydream about just how incredible the first grade’s performance of “Hot Cross Buns” was likely to be.
My own daughter’s moment in the spotlight this week has assured me that my perceptions of youth are a tad skewed toward the Land of Make Believe. Getting everyone ready, making sure all of the cameras were charged, picking up our nearly-forgotten cookie contribution for the reception afterward and then somehow ending up at show time impatiently standing in a tiny bathroom stall awaiting a little one’s emergency bathroom performance instead of my little girl’s musical performance revealed another side. As my beautiful little lady made her grand entrance with terror-filled tears streaming down her face instead of a proud grin from ear to ear, the reality of my own nerve-induced red blotchiness of childhood (not to mention my wedding day) also came flooding back.
It’s hard to know whether to keep videotaping or attempt a rescue mission when your child is seemingly the only deer in the headlights awash in a sea of happily singing, bouncing children. Knowing that it was as hard for our Laney to pull it together enough to just stand as quietly and invisibly as possible as it was for the other children to belt out every note, I kept recording, as proud as could be. The moment she was freed from her current personal form of torture, she ran beyond excitedly back down the aisle and into our arms, her current personal safety net, this time wholeheartedly grinning from ear to ear.
As much as I sometimes have an urge to run away with terror-filled tears streaming down my face when life becomes as pressurized as it does these last few weeks of school, I will instead stand cheering as loudly and as visibly as possible so that my children see my smiling face in the crowd. Being able to provide memories of “I noticed you stuck it out even though I could see that you wanted to run” is enough for me to stick out too.
It may be crunch time, but if we put on our rose-colored, no-gym-is-too-hot-and-sweaty-to-sit-in, no-yellow-bus-ride-is-too-awkward-to-chaperone glasses, we’ll make it through. I’m keeping my glasses out, though, because those lazy days of summer never turn out quite as lazy as I hope.
Shannon and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania.
E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.