No, summer doesn’t start on Memorial Day or on June 21st. For me, it’s all about that school calendar. And, if you’re a parent with kids in a New York State school system, then chances are summer started today for you, just as it did for me. Of course, our school district tortures both the students and parents with a final week of half days and then today is the most torturous of all: a half hour of school. No, that is not a typo. I said 30 minutes, or 1,800 seconds of school. In other words, I barely have time to grab a cup of coffee after I drop my kids off and then I have to go pick them up from their 30 minute day of school. Utterly ridiculous. I have no idea why the district has this final half hour/day, but all I know is that they have done it this way forever. And, no one seems to question it. Some parents just ignore it and don’t even send their kid to school. Other families say “screw it” and start their summer vacation early. And then there are the parents like me, who send their kid for that final day because we worry that he won’t have closure if he doesn’t say good-bye to all his teachers and friends.
This morning was particularly rough, for me, that is. Maybe because it was a rainy, dreary morning rather than a typical, bright June day, my energy was zapped. I just wanted to stay in bed and snooze for another hour or so. But, we all got up and went through the usual routine and I cursed under my breath about this hideous half hour day. I promised myself I would write a letter to our new Superintendent of schools, asking him to look into this inane policy. Although I grew up in a different NY school district, I don’t recall anything close to a half hour day when I was a kid. And if there was one, I know that my Mom, a working parent, would not have tolerated such idiocy.
As my two boys were inside the school building saying their good-byes, I drove over to Dunkin Donuts to get an iced tea and a bag of celebratory munchkins for them. Ok fine, I admit it, the munchkins were for me too. When my kids emerged from the building, they had big grins. My first grade graduate was clutching a bag containing a memory book, beach ball, pencils, and other assorted items that his teacher thoughtfully compiled. My fifth grade graduate was ready — ready to leave the playground, and move on up to middle school. And me, well, at least I was awake now. The iced tea rejuvenated me and the munchkins were their usual perfect sugary jolt. My boys and I then spent the rest of the day readying for summer: we bought new sneakers, got them summer haircuts, rode bikes, and went out for a pizza lunch. By the end of our day, that morning half hour of nonsense was long forgotten. You know what, maybe closure was just what we all needed after all. I guess my letter to the Superintendent can wait — until next year. Happy Summer!!