And just as I've come to count on the last two weeks of school coming at me with the momentum of a barreling freight train of festivities, I've also come to count on the regular celebrations I know linger on the other side of it. So that after we've made it through a month's worth of end of school chaos that keep me second guessing my every morning's drop off, certain I've overlooked something, for someone, I know after it's all said and done the pay proves tenfold the stresses. The parties, water days, themed dress up days, award ceremonies, end of the year open houses, kinder graduate events, and Memorial day performances, field trips and everything else that flood my mind with scattered notes to "keep in mind" and my house and car with littered certificates, permission slips, awards, lists and artwork, it all eventually wraps. And then, pure and simple freedom.
Thursday, when the last of the teacher's gifts have been wrapped and delivered and the home work turned in and the back packs busting from all the wear and tear they've suffered over the course of a year tossed, we all piled in that big white van, stop and collect whatever kids (or neighbor stragglers) we find en route and head on over to the Dogwood culdesac where a handful of houses have so kindly carved out this special day. Designed to kick off summer in the best possible way I can imagine with the kind of "last day of school" tradition that feels straight out of an 80's movie. Complete with soaking wet boys in Hawaiian shirts, girls in pigtails and roller-skates, and kindergartners armed with oversized nerf gun water warfare that comes exploding with laughter from crowded plastic pools atop sun blenched, drought tired lawns.
It's the promise of this party every year that keeps them abuzz with anticipation that whole last month. In addition to the balloon fight (which, I decided this year is possibly more fun to watch, as a bystander able to fully soak up the unbridled joy so apparent in all of these children's faces) there is also a makeshift ire cream buffet set up in one of the parent's driveway, complete with an gross assortment of gummy candy toppers you find in beloved yogurt lands, as well as endless cans of whip cream lined in front of them. It's the kind of thing I know for certain they'll retail with even grander vision to their own children one day. Reliving the glory that erupted on the 1:00 hour every year on the day school got out. Where you busted through the reigns of school and structure, and ran barefoot and wild eyed to answer the start of summer by chucking a few slick ones hard as you could at your best friend's head. Or taking it a little easier on the girls you'd been crushing on all year, who pretended to be as angry as you were sorry.
Anyway, summer is here.
Give us these six weeks then onward first, second, and fifth grade.