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Limping Across the Finish Line

Posted Jun 02 2013 12:00am

I've read two blog posts this week that said, exactly, what I would have said if I was a better writer. They said what I've been thinking to myself, but I haven't had the time to get to the computer and fully flesh out. The ability to get my thoughts to stream out of my mind in a clear and coherent pattern has been, shall we say, on a nice vacay lately.

Sure wish I could have gone away with my mind.

I think of each school year as an Ultra Marathon - maybe even more like a Tough Mudder. When you start an Ultra, you are rested, hydrated, and any injuries you have are freshly rehabilitated. You've got a pack of gear, probably some high energy protein snacks, and your "just in case" plans in place. You are psyched, stoked, exhilarated, somewhat nervous and full of energy. You? You can DO THIS. You know it will be tough, but you've got yourself in a good place.

At the end, you limp towards the finish, disoriented, dehydrated, discarded plans slapping around you like the skin you peeled off your shin on mile 16 when you tripped over your unlaced sneaker, taking a header into space.

In the past weeks, we've had projects galore, memorization in spades, field trips, end of the year concerts and programs, field days and festivals. Each of those events has reminded me that the end looms ever closer - and I just, well, I just close my mind to that thought.

It's not that I'm not ready for them to be home for summer. I am. I just can't think about it right now. I'm in crisis mode over here - closing down to only what is in the very small pinhole of focus that is right smack in front of me.

I've asked my high schoolers, who have four schools between the two of them, for the last date of classes I think six times. I can't remember. One of them graduates this year, and she graduates from two schools, so there are two graduations, two practices, two slots on the calendar - and two opportunities for me to mess up. My shorties get out of school on Tuesday. I think I realized that, finally, last week.

My college kid is already out. My other high school student finishes with one school Friday, one Tuesday. Soccer season ended with a five game one day tournament, golf season is over, the final instrumental concert concluded.

I'm signing each paper as it's put in front of me - but I have no idea what it says. I have no idea if I've made the decisions for next years schooling or if I agreed that someone can run away with her boyfriend and pierce her tongue.

In the past week, we've had a fresh spate of mean girls du jour, poor choices and ugly words. Mostly, I really think I want school to be over so that my kids will not have to deal with the ugliness, the brutal hostility of a fourth grade girl, the tawdry tongue of a tenth grader, the downright nastiness of a so called friend. What kind of a kid tells another "The coach didn't put you in for the last two games because you are a terrible player? You are the reason we came in second place!" I want to close in a bit more, spend time together as a family - yes, so that in a month or two I can scream inside my head WHEN WILL SCHOOL START AGAIN??

I'm tired of it. In the beginning of the Ultra, I'm more flexible, resistant to this stuff, more able to hold my crying kid and say just the right words, use these things as a teaching moment, hope to create a lesson that can be called on in later times. By the end of the year, I've used up my nice words. I don't care to preface my disgust with a situation with a hard won platitude just to help pacify someone else's feelings, when they've clearly illustrated no desire to worry about mine - or those of my kid, which is about the same thing.

I'm sure that, a month into summer, I'll be begging for school to go back. I think, right now, I'm just on mile 49.75 of that 50-miler. I'm hurdling the last brick wall of the Tough Mudder with jello legs and a quivering spine, and ready to be done.

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