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Coffee+Crumbs: Goodbye Grade School

I don’t want to open the email. Nooo you can’t make me. The subject line makes my blood run cold.

Spirit Week!

Good gravy. Not another one. There’s spirit week, and also the holiday party with the sign up for treats, and a teacher is having a birthday and there’s a color-coded list of what she likes, organized by gift cards, chocolate preferences, music taste, and restaurants. Followed by a breakdown of spirit nights – not to be confused with spirit week, which is a separate entity that requires elaborately-themed costumes each day.

Spirit night is when the whole school shows up to the same restaurant at the same time so the school will get money and we wait in long lines and our kids insist we go because the class with the most attendees wins. Wins what? No one knows but it’s important. There’s spirit night, spirit week, and also parties, and I can’t forget to bring in a birthday treat for the class in honor of my kid, but it has to be prepackaged and best to just get ice cream for everybody except the ice cream lady isn’t there that day and would I be able to sell ice cream at lunch a few times a week?

Elementary school is not elementary, dear Watson. In fact, it’s super effing hard. It’s a marathon. The pace picks up from preschool, but don’t let it fool you: it’s long and requires a lot. Pace yourself.

I see it. Light at the end of a very long tunnel that smells of sweaty nap mats and glue. My final child is finishing elementary school. I don’t know the math for how many years I’ve been doing grade school with these people but probably at least forty-seven.

As much as I love superlatives, I know I’m not the world’s worst elementary school mom. Up until a couple months ago when I started phoning it in, I still opened emails and skimmed them. I signed up to send in the lower-tier items like napkins, cups, and Clorox wipes. I’d send in anything I could fit in a backpack, but not the things I’d have to show up in person for. No trays of things. No handcrafted snack foods.

No, I’m not the worst, but I’m worst-adjacent. I hate elementary school. I mean, I’m thankful for it and feel weepy with gratitude for the teachers and parents working so hard at our wonderful school. But I want to pretend like it doesn’t exist until my kids pop out on the other side knowing their multiplication tables and stem words.

Give me your stupid, smelly teens. Give me your argumentative a-holes who think they know everything. You want to get into a 45-minute argument about the history of the Tesseract in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? I’m your girl. You need someone to help organize an essay about the South African economy? Sure. Let’s go.

Do not make me hold hands or tell you your fingerpainting is quality work. I mean I will, but it’s not my strong suit.

It’s over. We did it, people. Onward and upward.

Once my first kid graduated to middle school, the entire vibe around our house changed and suddenly I was trying to manage two completely different life stages—one involving Disney and limericks and one involving horror movies and dirty jokes. My crotch is sore from doing the splits over the gargantuan divide between middle school and grade school over the last few years. Having teens who want to talk about sex and vaping and an innocent child who just got married to the tree on the playground in a ceremony at recess really stretched my range.

For the last couple years, I’ve had three kids at three different schools—elementary, middle, and high schools. When you have three kids in three schools, you have to learn that “gas” means both marijuana and farts. The whole spectrum of what kids encounter, from drugs to flatulence. KEEP READING

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