It's been a long, exhausting day for everyone in my household. The school kids are under too many deadlines, the workers have everything coming due at once and everyone is short-tempered, overwhelmed and cranky.
Oh, and there's yet another school concert coming up.
As much as I love fall, I always feel just a little bit under the gun at this time of the year. I think it's ludicrous that I have to pay money to listen to my own kid sing – though, I hasten to add, I understand why it has become necessary for music programs to do this. I remember with what dewy-eyed innocence I attended my first school concert – Joy recited “Frosty the Snowman” and we rehearsed together for weeks – but the thrill is pretty much gone by this point. Now I know it's nothing but 3 minutes of my kid(s) performing followed by 3 hours in a seat designed by the Marquis de Sade to torture pygmies.
Don't get me wrong, my kids are fantastically talented and so are a couple of their peers. It's just that I've already heard all the off-key John Phillip Sousa and squeaky first-year violin renditions of “Go Tell Aunt Rhodie” that I really care to hear. Attention music teachers of the world: Play some Metallica or some Muse or some Pig Destroyer or something, anything, else, this year, 'kay?
I have six children, four of whom have graduated from high school and two of which only have a year to go. Counting the three who went to preschool for two years, that's 75 Open Houses Lance and I have attended. 75. "This is a classroom. This is a book. This is a teacher. I'm all out of syllabi." I think I've got the hang of it now, thanks.
I'll scream if I see another slick catalog featuring twelve-dollar pretzels and thirty-five dollar rolls of wrapping paper.
Yeah, I'll work the book sale. Again. My, uh, let's see, twenty-fifth book sale. I'm all for literacy but . . . couldn't we sponsor pole-dancers or something this year, instead? If I see another paperback copy of Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas, I am afraid that I will spew into the Teen Classics.
You iron the choir robes this year. I have ironed enough choir robes to clothe the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and all their friends and relations. Ironing choir robes is like ironing eight-foot sheets of mucus. I don't want to do it any more.
Conferences. I could give you chapter and verse on parent-teacher-student conferences. “Your kid is a genius. Everybody loves him/her. I could eat him/her up with a spoon and not even want any dessert. If only s/he would hand in his/her work, I wouldn't have to flunk him/her.” At least when Bender was in school we got a break in this department: “I think you should have this child euthanized. If this was MY child, I'd beat him to death with a bicycle chain. Seriously. This child is the devil.” Ah, those were the days. Good ol' Bender.
Up at six every weekday morning since 1988. Making sure there's a healthy snack on the table and a clear hour for chatting and unwinding every weekday afternoon at 3. Date nights pre-empted by PTA meetings. Vacation days spent chaperoning choir trips. The smell of the track team. After all these years, there's such a monotonous sameness to the whole “school” thing.
Ah, but . . . when they cross the stage wearing the funny hat and the baggy dress . . . when they grab the folder holding that precious piece of paper and enthusiastically shake some old guy's hand . . . and then when they look anxiously out over the crowd, catch my eye and grin . . .
I never get tired of that.