Small Talk

Finding my peace amid the madness

If I needed to count my blessings, I need only look into the eyes of any one of the moms who race through the school library this time of year. End-of-year madness has descended and they are scrambling.I loved and truly appreciated most of my children’s teachers, but I want to throttle the over-achiever who upped the end-of-year tradition from a heartfelt thank you card to an exotic gift basket, a collage of photos from each of the children, a spa treatment, bouquets of flowers, and perhaps a new wardrobe at Nordstrom. I submit that by early May, moms and some of the dads, are just tapped out, both monetarily and physically, with barely the energy to wave good-bye.

Yet along with meeting the room mom’s requests for secret donations, hand-written compositions and various sign-up sheets, your list of final-month to-dos grows ever longer. It may include another trip to the store for potatoes to make electricity for your child’s science fair experiment. It always involves finding the last, bent tri-board at the drugstore for that last book report or a reconstruction of the catacombs in Rome.

I had but two children, and these last weeks of school set my hair on fire. I cannot imagine those with four or five. I expect to see them self-combust in the parking lot.

If you volunteered at school, and who didn’t, you had to schedule time for the Thank-You luncheon, which very likely meant major time rescheduling. Or you could just skip it and be the pariah-mother who wasn’t there to receive her wilted flowers and hear her child’s class sing. Those would be the same songs your child has been singing over and over in the shower, the car, the supermarket and bedtime for six weeks.

Then there are the class picnics, field trips, dances or, heaven forfend, promotion ceremonies. These add a guaranteed fight with your child about what they will wear.

You will probably hear, “We need organic, nut-free snacks, we need cupcakes, we need bottled water, we need sunscreen, we need to book a park, we need chaperones, we neeeeed …” Phew. I am still not convinced that my adorable children worked hard enough to deserve this week of fun and fresh air, just before six weeks of fun and fresh air. Heck, I want them to really appreciate that summer break. Let them work that pencil to the nub until 2:25 p.m. of the final day.

With any luck, that might delay the dreaded words that you know will come. “Mom, I’m bored!”


Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who keeps small chocolates at hand to restore a mother’s soul. Contact her at


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