This was the question hanging out there on our neighborhood social network last week.
I had to think. When does school actually start and end? These days, only thing I’m sure of is what time I have to shoo kids out the door to catch the bus, or to get on the road in time to beat traffic.
Last year was the end of our ushering anybody into the venerable halls of elementary school. It was also the end of my keeping track of exact school start times.
I used to know. I used to calibrate all our clocks in the house to the school bell right down to the second. We needed every minute of the morning. It wasn’t uncommon for me to deposit a kid at the crosswalk or at the edge of the drop-off late enough he had to sprint across the playground to hit the door before the tardy bell. The difference of one second could mean escaping the notice of the duty in her bright, yellow vest, or hearing “stop by the office for a tardy slip, sweetie.”
There I’d be, the lone mom in the drop off area, calling out to my kid and all his fellow latecomers from the car like we’d just hit ground on the beaches at Normandy.
“Run, you sons of bitches, RUUUN!”
Today, with one kid in junior high and the other in high school, and both employing more or less independent forms of transportation, I have only a vague notion of school start times.
If this person on our neighborhood network was asking because she actually has a student, she’d probably get exact times at registration. Maybe it was just a general query, to gauge when she could expect traffic snarls at school crosswalks.
So I tamped down the “honey, let me introduce you to Google” response I initially thought of, and posted something about the first bell at the elementary school and an estimated time the junior high kids convene to create havoc at the intersection when they’re supposed to be watching for traffic.
Along with my “good enough” answer, there was this response:
“Halls open at 7:40 am, warning bell at 7:45 am, first period begins at 7:50. When there are early releases, the final class ends at 12:00 pm (if it is a Noon Release Bell Schedule). If it is a 1:15 Release Bell Schedule, the final class ends at 1:15 pm. On regular days, the final class ends at 2:30 pm. Hope this helps. Just check the school website.”
… Jaaaysus. Really?
Okay, so I’m not the mom who knows exactly when the bell rings. I knew enough on the first day, and then expected my kids to absorb that little factoid and fend for themselves. I’d be there if needed.
There are the helicopter parents, and then there are the rest of us: the whole, broad spectrum of engaged to less engaged to downright neglectful.
I’m in the ‘meh’ category.
‘Meh’ moms have a vague idea of when the bells ring or the library books are due. ‘Meh’ moms get calls from the school saying her kid owes $2 to the receptionist who lent him money for lunch.
Know what else happens when you’re a ‘meh’ mom?
- Incomplete baby books. I have at least one or two for each kid. Who has time for filling that crap out? I also have stacks of photos crammed into boxes in the basement, along with all the scrapbooking material that was never assembled into actual scrapbooks.
- Rubbermaid bins full of artwork, from the days I kept stuff they brought home from school, sorting through and tossing the paint-by-numbers crap they just did because they had to. At some point, I forgot which bin belonged to whom, though. I may have mixed the artwork up somewhere around third grade. I’ll let them figure it out someday.
- Ziploc bags of teeth, presumably ones that have fallen from the face of one of kid or another. I can’t remember why I felt compelled to keep them. It just seemed wrong to pitch them after the tooth fairy finally got her crap together. Also, envelopes with locks of hair. From first haircuts, I guess. At least I don’t have pencil boxes full of scabs or anything. That’d be weird.
- Less laundry. I’m pretty sure my youngest son hasn’t changed his shirt in two days. I can’t see any big stains, so I’m letting that go until he starts to smell.
- Closed doors. I will occasionally admonish the kids to clean their rooms. Usually I settle for a clear exit in case there’s a fire. I cope by not looking. Or smelling. Their space is their own. They want to channel Blutarsky, why fuss?
- Pizza. I think that’s what my kids had for dinner three nights this week. We had stuff going on.
- The occasional bonus school concert. Once I drove by my kids’ school and the lot and all the street parking was full. I remembered a memo about a school program, so I pulled over and rushed inside. I think I was on the third verse of “wheels on the bus” when I noticed how small the kids looked. Turns out I was in the program for the 1st through 3rd The following week would be the 4th through 6th grade program. The one with my kid.
Read your school bulletin, people.
I do pat myself on the back for getting precise when it counts. I can keep pets and plants alive. I pay the mortgage on time. When nobody volunteered to be the umpire for my son’s little league team, I did. And then I learned how to be an umpire, which required I learn how to play actual baseball.
You want to know how little league fans feel about ‘meh’ moms? I don’t. So I sat through the clinics and learned the rules, and when Colin said he wanted to quit, that he never actually wanted to be on the team that year anyway, I had a little meltdown because we are not freaking quitters, man.
We stay the course. Finish the season. Sell the fundraising raffle tickets. Wear the sweaty, oversized umpire gear. We stare down beer-bellied dads stomping out from the bleachers, rulebook in hand to challenge a call.
We also, apparently, develop a nasty case of shingles from the stress, a slight facial tick, and a habit of gobbling antacids by the handful before every game.
Meh moms are better suited to track and field, I guess.
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