May 16, 201208:18 AMMinivan Diaries
It’s mid-May. Email after email arrives with news of events marking the end of school. There are field trips, parties, a bake sale, and vague rumors about a chorus recital. I am delirious.
Another email arrives. I let out a strangled sob, and open it.
“We need volunteers for the 5th Grade Promotion Ceremony!” it begins.
I snap my laptop shut.
My cell phone buzzes. It’s a text from one of my friends.
“I can’t face this on my own,” it reads. ‘Can we please do something for graduation together?”
“Can we get away with pretending we didn’t see the email?” I text back.
“I feel too guilty,” she texts. “The people in charge do so much.”
“I know,” I respond. “I had a moment of weakness.”
“Which job should we take?” she asks.
“What looks easy?” I respond.
I know that sounds bad. But like so many others, we have labored long in the volunteer trenches. For over a decade we have headed up committees, managed teams, coached teams, made cupcake runs, organized fundraisers, chaperoned trips, negotiated contracts, sent pleading emails, and ordered pizzas. So. Much. Pizza.
Two million volunteer hours and 11 Skate Nights later, we’re just a little . . . tired.
The phone rings. It’s my friend. Texting no longer suffices.
“How about the pool party?” she suggests.
“Are you mad?” I say. “Sure, if we could keep it simple. But someone will get ambitious.”
“We can fight ambition,” she says confidently. She is younger than I am -- have I mentioned that?
“I can’t handle it!” I say, my voice rising hysterically. I desperately scan the list of responsibilities, searching in vain for “Bring the napkins.”
“We could be in charge of refreshments for graduation,” I suggest.
“That sounds doable,” she agrees, and hangs up.
Two minutes later, she calls back.
“Someone else snagged refreshments,” she says, resignedly. “So I signed us up for the DVD.”
I hear a roaring sound. The room goes dark.
When I come to, I am lying on the floor, supine. I can hear her voice anxiously crackling over the cell phone, which is lying a few feet away. I pick it up and hold it to my ear.
“Are you ok?” she says.
“The DVD?” I squeak. “Do you know what happened to the woman who did the DVD a few years ago? She forgot to include photos of two kids. She thought they’d transferred! She’s a broken woman!”
“NOT the ceremony’s slideshow,” exclaims my friend. “I know we’re not capable! The DVD. We’ll just film the ceremony and distribute the DVDs. If we survived swim team concessions, we can survive this!”
“Please don’t mention the swim team,” I say, closing my eyes and rubbing my forehead. I begin to hallucinate about stopwatches.
I hang up. I am still on the floor. I think I’ve pulled a muscle.
I open my eyes. My two presumptive graduates are standing above me, peering down.
Several more permission slips waft down toward me.
My kids are beaming. Their excitement lightens my mood. Not a lot, but enough.
I get to my feet. Like the Grinch, I feel my heart expand.
Farewell, elementary school.