June is the Cruelest Month

December has always been my least favorite month, but June is now running a close second. The things that I despise about December–the stressing over gifts, the relentless parties, the overeating and drinking, the looming stretch of school vacation–have come to define June, too. True, the weather is generally nicer and the days longer, but that just leaves more time to fill out camp forms.  How is it that we can invent a robot that can call 9-1-1 if an epileptic has a seizure but not a universal health form acceptable to every camp, summer program, and sports league?

It’s a wonder anyone ever gets any work done in June. For one thing, spring sports go into playoffs. My kids are among the few left in suburbia who have not forsaken baseball for lacrosse, so I spend 3 to 4 evenings a week spectating at the ball field, which I enjoy in part because it absolves me from having to make dinner. But it leaves barely any time for all the end-of-year concerts, performances, class trips, picnics, field days, barbecues, and ceremonies. And none of my kids is even graduating from anything. I appreciate the need to mark time’s passage, but does every activity really require a culminating pizza party? It’s swimsuit season, for God’s sake! At least in December, you can count on bulky sweaters to hide the results of all the overeating.

Then there is the gift-giving dilemma. In my 3rd grader’s elementary school, the room parent collects money at the start of the year and divides it up to appropriately fete the  teacher on three occasions: at the holidays, on “teacher appreciation” day and at the end of the year. So technically I am covered. But how will my daughter–or her teacher–feel when all the other kids bring in wrapped candles and picture frames on the last day, in addition to the class gift? Isn’t the whole point of collecting for a class gift to level the gift-giving playing field? It’s time to call a truce. Meanwhile, I am bracing myself for the guilt and self-loathing I will inevitably experience when I see another, more thoughtful and better-organized mother than I bestow a Starbucks gift card upon an essential behind-the-scenes figure I have neglected to consider, like the crossing guard or the reading specialist. Perhaps the real reason I dislike June so much is because it, like December, provides endless reminders of my own inadequacies.

But even the kids know June is a joke. As soon as Memorial Day weekend rolled past, my 13-year-old son said joyfully, “Now we’ll start doing nothing in school!” So it seems: his social studies assignment last week was to create a movie poster illustrating ancient Roman warfare or something. He cut out pictures of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, drew beards on them, labeled them Scipio and Hannibal, and called it, “The Battle Crashers.” Then he cut out blurbs like “Hilariously funny”/The New York Times and pasted them all over the page. Now, I am all for creative homework assignments, but this one–or at least his execution of it–demonstrated absolutely no understanding  of Hannibal, Scipio or ancient Rome, while conveying an alarming grasp of raunchy R-rated buddy movies. My friend Linda told me that her son, who attends another middle school in another state, recently had to devise a “Civil War menu,” on which he featured such delicacies as “Uncle Tomato Soup,” prepared by Harriet Beecher Stowe and described as “a best seller for people who just want everyone and everything in the world to be free.” At least he demonstrated a grasp of the material!

My only solace is that soon enough it will all be over; I will ship the kids off and the house will be quiet. That is, assuming I get the stack of camp forms filled out in time.

About Susan H. Greenberg

Susan H. Greenberg spent 22 years as a journalist for Newsweek Magazine. She now works as a writer, editor, teacher, and parent of three children, with whom she strives always to maintain a varnish-free relationship.
This entry was posted in Cranky mommy blogger, Family life, Parenting, Reality check and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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