I am exactly still like that at the end of school, except the opposite.
We are limping, limping across the finish line, folks. I tapped out somewhere in April and at this point, it is a miracle my kids are still even going to school. I haven’t checked homework folders in three weeks, because, well, I just can’t. Cannot. Can. Not. I can’t look at the homework in the folder. Is there homework in the folder? I don’t even know. Are other moms still looking in the homework folder? I don’t even care.
Last signature: April 26th. I'm good at other things.
I feel like any sort of school energy required at this point is pure oppression, like the universe is trying to destroy me. I’m so tiiiiiiiiired and I have five kids and that is just too many to educate well. I can only handle around two, so I’m going with Sydney and Caleb because they both like to read and the other three are just going to have to enroll in Life Skills Class one day and develop a trade.
Yesterday Remy brought her books to me at bedtime – an hour notable for its propensity to incite rage and trauma – and chirped, “We need to read for 20 minutes!” and a little part of my soul died.
“No, we don’t have to read tonight.”
“YES WE DO!!! MRS. BURKE SAID!!! WE HAAAAVE TO!!!”
“We already read.”
“NO WE DIDN’T!!! YOU ARE FAKING ME, MOM?”
“When I talk to you during the day, that’s like reading. You have to listen to the words I am saying and then make sense of them. It’s really hard work for you. It’s called auditory reading. We’ve been practicing all day. I’ll write the minutes down in your log.”
My friend Glennon over at Momastery described nighttime reading like this: “The little one wants to ‘help read’ her book. So, let’s see. It takes her about six minutes to sound out each word, and so if the book is one hundred words, well, I don’t specialize in math but I am telling you that I am stuck in that room FOREVER. It feels like I will be reading that book with Amma until I die.”
UNTIL WE DIE. Children should not be allowed to learn to read until they are already good at it. And why do we have to do this at bedtime when I’m one click away from becoming that scary under-the-bed-mother in “Mama” (GO TO BED OR I AM ACTUALLY GOING TO DIE AND THEN HAUNT YOU FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE AS A TERRIFYING CLOWN). I know having an emerging reader is exciting. Because of the reading! And the literacy! But at the end of the school year, when I’ve logged approximately 688 million hours with such gripping plots like The mother and the brother went to the store, which takes 12 minutes to decode, then I have to look at the ceiling and sing hymns in my brain to get through it.
Then Ben tells me Tuesday that he needs a Ben Franklin costume for the Living History Museum today, and I’m like what fresh hell is this?? I have no idea how I missed the correspondence on this (because I’m not checking backpacks is just a theory), but Brandon is the Costume and Project Parent and I am the Daily Grinder, which is a division of labor we agreed on to ensure our kids actually graduate one day and move out, but he is out of town on a mancation, so this is on me. I cannot even handle signing a folder in late May; a colonial costume is cause for full, unrestrained despair.
So Ben went to school like this today, and there is no way this will ever not be a part of his childhood. Please note my scarf hanging out the bottom of his vest, as well as the soccer socks stretched over his Adidas pants. Just whatever, man.
My shame was somewhat mitigated when I saw a kid wearing a random t-shirt and jeans with a pair of swim goggles around his neck (Michael Phelps) and another girl with a piece of paper taped to her shirt with her character’s name written in marker. I caught the eyes of their moms and was all solidarity, you guys.
Teachers, we need to make a deal that after April testing, we don’t have to do anything else. You don’t. I don’t. I don’t care if you watch movies in class five days a week and take four recesses a day. I mean, Caleb had to bring an About Me poster with five school days left in the year. In September, this might have produced something noteworthy, with pictures perhaps, even some thoughtful components to describe his winning qualities, but as we’ve used up all our bandwidth, we yanked trash out of our actual trash can, glued it to a poster, and called it a day. I am not exaggerating when I tell you this is the very most we can do on May 29th. This is our best work: