When I was in school there were two parties: Christmas and Valentine’s Day. We got candy canes and a homemade envelope full of little paper hearts with Elmer’s glue running out of their edges. We also got three full months of summer. This was enough for us.
In the last two weeks of this school year my eleven year old had an educational field trip, a mini golf field trip, a trip to a water park, an awards ceremony, and a water fun day.
He was literally worn out from the celebration phenomenon. We didn’t really want school to invade the month of June and, I know I’m a bit of a curmudgeon, but I don’t think my son cared all that much about even more partying.
I remember when the Fifth grade first started he would come home frustrated that their day was so over scheduled. He didn’t feel like he had a free second to think. Those were his words. Sounds like my idea of a nightmare. In fifth grade I did my work quickly then faked a headache so I could lay in the nurse’s office and stare at a wall for the rest of the class. I would just lay there and think without interruption.
I guess these two days of partying were a way to balance out the structure and pressure of the school year. They were definitely a blur of camera charging and rushing about for us. I recall snippets like Presidential Awards, the Perfect Attendance Award (otherwise known as the Typhoid Mary Award,) and then there was the P.E. Award. The coach said, “If your child exhibited one or more of these qualities during the year, they received this award.” Then she proceeded to list every adjective that has anything to do with having even a shred of goodness within you. Of course, my son didn’t get this one.
It’s not like he made unsatisfactory in conduct and I happen to know he has an unusually pure heart; but a pure heart can still be a little wild. It’s okay, he racked up on the academics awards and I know they don’t give awards for creativity, or exuberance, or humor. Even so, I’m glad he will be free to be his wild self all day for a few months with me.
I loved how freely he and his friends smiled on that day.
I noticed that they spent every unplanned, free moment (and even parties have lots of structure) stunt fighting and chasing one another for six hours. Then they ate a bunch of pizza and washed it down with a coke.
My son threw up that evening. He’d had too much “fun” and he knew it. He was overstimulated and dehydrated before the day was half over. I can’t imagine myself, as a child, snubbing a giant inflatable water slide because I was “all watered out” like he did. But, really, we didn’t have party overkill either. We also didn’t even have a slip n’ slide, just a tiny plastic Kmart pool that we had to lay flat in to be submerged. We would drag ourselves around the edge on our sides, chasing each other in a circle, to play Shark.
I know our sons need self control and to be attentive, even if they’re done with their work. I know they must learn respect and I believe he is and will. But sometimes, during the school day, I think it would be great if boys could just act like boys, not just on special occasions.
Because this little boy needs to while he still can. Yes, please, because I love that little boy.