Shouts out to all my parents, guardians and grandparents raising grandbabies in The Struggle. We did it. The end of the school year has come and if you’re reading this, it means that you still had a little bit of change left over to pay your internet and light bill. You tha real MVP.
Nana Malone’s husband calls this time of year ‘Death by a thousand cuts’. I don’t think I’ve encountered a more apt description of the financial hemorrhaging that takes place in the days leading up to the end of the school year. It’s costly to keep our young’uns in school, and it takes a small ransom to get them out! For the last three weeks, Marshall and I have been bleeding money…and I know we’re not alone. You too have struggled. I can feel it.
I haven’t sat down to calculate the aggregate cost of all the end of year activities. I really don’t want to know, to be honest. But if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say conservatively we’ve spent close to $1,000 in the 3 weeks leading up to the last day of school. My Teacher Appreciation Week gifts alone left my account close to $200 lighter. That’s not the teachers’ fault. It’s my own. I like to give good gifts.
Parents around the country have been nickel and dime’d out of hundreds of dollars for end of year activities. What we should all be welcoming as a joyous season as families – the beginning of summer, a new milestone in your child’s education journey, pool/beach season – has become increasingly stressful over the years. When I was in primary school, we had ONE celebration. It was called Our Day. Kids would bring jollof or rice and stew to share with friends. The really posh kids would bring a mineral (soda). My mom was stingy, so we either went without food to Our Day or we took juuuust enough of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to break off a piece for whoever was still a friend by the time the year ended. My mother would stroke out if she had to contend with all the all the expectations of parenthood today.
Everyone has a party.
After school club has a party.
Zumba club has a party.
Each classroom has a party.
Then there is a school-wide party.
Then Kindergarten graduation party.
Then Pre-K graduation party. (I still haven’t figured out why I’m paying sixty bucks to see my child graduate from daycare. How is this an accomplishment? Nevertheless, they gave her a cap and gown…so to graduation we go!)
Don’t forget the PTA appreciation party (donations of $5 and above are welcome!).
Then when you get home, the kids want to know if there will be an ushering Summer Season party. Who is paying for all these parties? You and I ooo. They are not charitable goodwill events!
Did I mention the activities?
Now we have field study/excursions. Oh! And it’s overnight, so send your kid with $20 for spending money.
Your child has shown promise in x area. S/he will join an elite group of students in the State’s capital to meet with lawmakers about how to create leather from wishes. Be sure to send $20 for spending money.
Little Akosua joined the Reading Club last semester and has failed to return 3 of the books she checked out. Please remit $9.50 to the librarian.
Oh! You didn’t get that email? We sent it in April! And you have to construct a pioneer and beehive project. This will count towards their final grade and will be showcased at the Party party. Be prepared to spend $100 on materials at Hobby Lobby.
Times 4! All these and more times 4!
But we made it. We did it! We were battered and scourged, but we didn’t die. Dying is for summer time when the children consume all the food in the house like a hoard of locust and expect to be rewarded for this behavior with trips to Tybee Island and Disney Land. Rogues.
And now, the girls are into their appearance, so I have to make sure they don’t have more self-esteem issues than an 8-10 year girl should be burdened with. They have been watching ANT Farm and have taken a liking to Chyna’s locks. I have pressed more hair this month than I have in my entire life. Of course, the baby wants to do what the big girls do and so..
Maintaining one’s appearance costs Mommy time. And money. Because you Negros don’t have the same grade of hair. I gotta get a ceramic iron for one, a titanium for the other and a magnetic lined, Pegasus-blessed flat iron for the other!
Look at this. My son had the audacity to wear this shirt to the last day of school. (I have to tell you all the story of how he ended up BACK in school. Principal McClure is the one to thank for this.) Homework is your only concern, eh? Small boys are young. You are only 5. Let’s chat again when you are 35. By the time you have kids, they’ll be doing field studies on Jupiter, and I will sit back and laugh at you with no sympathy.
I recognize that we are blessed and fortunate to have the discretionary funds to do all of these fun (because they are totally unnecessary) things for our kids. It’s sobering to remember that many, many American families cannot afford to participate in the avalanche of frivolity that classroom moms and club administrators conjure up and demand payment for at the waning of Spring.
It still hurts.
Has your end-of-year experience been similar, or do your kids just do Our Day and be done with it? I miss Our Day. I miss the simplicity of jollof and decorations made with newspaper. I don’t want to bleed anymore. Let’s boycott in the 2015=2016 school year. Who’s with me!
Y’all lyin’. You ain’t ready to revolt. Our kids won’t let us. I’ll see you at the ATM same time this fall.