And then, precisely ten months from when it began, it was over. ‘It’ being Kindergarten, of course.
We counted down the days for nearly a month. ‘Only three more weeks of school!’ I’d remind the Gort. ‘Only ten more days of school!’ ‘Only three more days of school!’ And then it was Thursday the 24th.
The last day of school.
In an effort to make up for the unceremonious start to his K-12 career, (what with two parents in the hospital with a fresh baby and all), I decided to let the Gort choose how to celebrate his last day. (And the -presumably – successful conclusion to his introduction to the school-machine.)
‘What do you want to do to celebrate your last day of school?’ I asked. ‘Go out to eat, go to a movie, get ice cream…..?’
Without hesitation he selected ‘get ice cream’. Because the professor took him and his brothers to Dairy Queen once and now the Gort pretty much thinks there is nothing finer in life than a strawberry sundae. From Dairy Queen.
Once he got to choose how he’d celebrate the end of the year, he talked of little else. Which was endearing in and of itself – a little six year old guy; completely enamored with going to Dairy Queen.
After dropping him off at school, I went to lunch with two fellow moms to celebrate having survived the first year. We had prosecco and antipasti and salad and cappuccino. And we talked of what we’d do when all our kids were in school. (Which is next year, for them. And five years from now for me.) We drove back to school to collect our kids and their accoutrements. And to say goodbye to the school and teacher we’d seen almost daily for ten months.
Before heading to Dairy Queen, we stopped at the school playground. For one last gathering with classmates. The kids consumed brightly colored popsicles and the moms drank generic cans of club soda. (Prompting the Gort to point at my can and say, loudly, ‘is that BEER?’)
Yes, darling. I’m standing at the playground drinking beer.
True to form, the Gort managed to injure himself while running around in the hockey rink and I had no choice but to give him a piggyback ride back to the car-van. Graceful exits clearly aren’t in my repertoire, I concluded as I bid the other mothers farewell and began the journey across the park. One mother-pack-mule with a lanky blonde boy on her back and a worn Cars backpack full of mixed emotions.
On the one hand I’m relieved to get a two-month-reprieve from making the twenty trips per week between home and school. The driving is tedious, for one, and it makes a mess of the afternoons for the little people who need siestas. (And for the adult who needs the little people to take siestas.)
And I’m relieved that we can do things in the morning without the omnipresent worry that we’ll be late for Kindergarten. No more ending playdates – abruptly. No more postponing errands because there isn’t enough time to squeeze them in before Kindergarten starts. And after Kindergarten was such a tired, cranky time that it was scarcely worth the hassle to fit them in then.
But with the relief, comes a fair bit of un-relief.
‘No more Kindergarten’ means ‘no more break’. As in, no more (daily) two and a half hour reprieves from brotherly ‘bickering’. From now until September 2nd, it will be all bickering, all the time. But, of course, that isn’t the worst. What’s two and a half hours of additional bickering each day?
The worst is that Kindergarten is over. Which means we’re undeniably, unequivocally on the school treadmill. Once you’re on, there’s no getting off. Today it’s grade one. Tomorrow it’s high school graduation.
Walking into Dairy Queen with my four boys confirmed this. There we were, a family with small children, surrounded by other similarly-minded families with bigger children. Families with daughters wearing glittery, too-tight shirts. Families with children who weren’t nearly as excited about going to Dairy Queen to celebrate the end of school. Families with children who were (probably) itching to get out of there so they could go and hang out with their friends.
The professor and I were officially on the road to becoming redundant; one step closer to becoming the retired couple sitting in the booth next to us.
My blizzard didn’t taste so good.