Another school year has come to a close. Jessie successfully completed a ridiculously complex fourth grade year and Harrison knocked it out of the park by kicking butt on the finals for his junior year. The sun is shining and the skies are calm. I, however, am neither shining nor particularly calm. (Well, I am kinda calm actually, but that is only because I am hopped up on the Xanax I took earlier for my MRI. Hopped up is not really accurate as I am so relaxed that I actually napped while enduring the magnetic force of a several ton machine which was exploring the shenanigans of my evil back. Short answer: it is getting better. Slowwwlyyyy.) And now summer, which I have been no so quietly fearing for all these months, is upon us. Oh, shit.
I’ve (repeatedly) articulated my concerns over activities and ways to fill the long, hot days but have been less honest (particularly with myself) about the bigger fear. Now that school is out, a tremendous percentage of my built-in support system is gone. With their summer vacations happily (for them) devoid of lesson plans and the issues of other people’s children, the school administrators and teachers who have solidly had my back since that fateful December morning are, for the next couple of months, off the payroll. Oh, my, how that scares me. That which has become (almost but not quite) normal and (totally) safe is being turned on its ear and a new crop of (unwitting?) summer support is up at bat. Confident in my due diligence surrounding vetting and preparing the SSS (summer support system), I admit to feeling just a little queasy at the thought of at least three new beginnings: summer school, cooking school and art camp. Who says transitions are only hard for kids? (Aside: Jessie is blissfully unaware of the agony and angst I have experienced in an attempt to give her – and me – an enjoyable summer. Oh, how I love parenting.)
Throughout my kids’ elementary school years I have always sent along gifts (movie theater gift cards were always a crowd pleaser) and heartfelt notes to the kid’s teachers thanking them for enduring six hours a day with my offspring. This year, for a whole host of reasons, was different. I had all intentions of doing as I had for the past fifteen years but every time I sat down, or even considered sitting down to do so, I simply couldn’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t have warm feelings and appreciation for jobs well done, but I was somehow paralyzed. In thinking about it, despite always sort of knowing, I was suddenly struck with clarity as to just how imperative their (the original SSS: school support system) support has been throughout what is only the beginning of this adventure. I, in a first, was at a loss for words. (You might have noticed I haven’t blogged, either. Or maybe you didn’t.)
And then this morning, which happened to be the last day of school, immediately after Jessie left the house for the last time as a fourth grader, I sat down and composed this email:
To: Mary, Linda, Christina, Kelly, Debbie, Tricia, Jean & Lori
Subject: Thank you x 1,000
I had every intention of writing to you each personally to thank you for the tremendous job you all did working with not only Jessie but our entire family this year. I planned to take actual pen to paper, take out our bright and colorful “Ross Family” stationery and leave quietly for the summer after having expressed our deep gratitude. But, for some reason, I just couldn’t do it. The emotions of the past several months – including how unfailingly supportive you all have been – took a hold of me and disallowed my composing that which I have had floating in my head for weeks now.
Each one of you touched us and held us up. Each one of you, in many ways you might not even realize, made each day just a little bit easier. When I needed to be talked off the ledge, at least one, if not more, of you were at the ready. From the moment Jessie came into school on December 12 and “shared” with Kelly, it has been as seamless as one could possibly hope for. She never felt anything but supported and safe at school. She knew that each and every one of you had her back. Not once did she tell me she couldn’t, wouldn’t or didn’t want to go to school. (She did, however, do her fair share of moaning over homework…)
I guess my inability to write each note is a sign of my personal fears over being without your support for the next couple of months. The summer lies ahead without the structure you have each worked so lovingly at putting into place. I wish I could package you all up for the months of July and August (we are far enough into June that I think I can handle it from here…) and have your wisdom, patience and calm in my back pocket.
Rich and I wish you all a wonderful, relaxing and not too hot summer.
Our sincere thanks for jobs done extraordinarily well.
All the best,
Noteworthy is the list of recipients: the principal, vice principal, guidance counselor, school psychologist, classroom teacher, special education teacher and school nurse. I could well have sent it to every teacher, parent and child at school as they all deserved the same props for supporting a situation that, if nothing else, was unchartered. I am even toying with forwarding a copy to the Superintendent of Schools as I am a big proponent of catching people doing things well. (Aside: I am the person who asks for the manager at a restaurant when a waiter does a particularly good job. Once I did it at The Cheesecake Factory – my kids might have trashed the area around us, or broken a few plates or spilled a few drinks – and was practically chased down by the waiter thanking me for taking the time and being responsible for his being gifted a free meal by his boss. Now, one could argue that he should be getting free meals anyway, but apparently it takes a compliment from a diner for that to happen. Good to know, right?)
I am so aware of how abruptly everyone (presently company included) was thrust into our upside down world and the grace with which they all handled it and am only hoping that my instincts serve me well, that the summer choices we’ve made will prove equally positive and supportive and that I have been blessed with another great SSS since I probably cannot wait until September…