My youngest child is 15. Five years ago today, I volunteered at my last grade school class party. I remember the day with great fondness, recalling the dance of joy I did in the parking lot afterward as I said to myself, “I never have to do that ever again in my entire life!”
The way my kids’ grade school did parties was to have each class rotate through various rooms – the Crafts Room, the Snack Room, the Game Room. My first class party I eagerly asked what I should do and was assigned to the Crafts Room, where I was handed some colored paper and glue sticks, along with an instruction sheet containing unfathomable diagrams. Thirty seconds later I had kindergarteners lined up, waiting for me to show them how to make their whatever it was supposed to be. I’m not a crafty person and I work a lot better with linguistic instruction than pictures. The other parents in the room were breezing through their lines of kids, while I sat and wondered which way the paper was supposed to fold.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. Show up early and grab a spot in the Snack Room dipping ice cream, before someone else takes the position. The number of kids still seems overwhelming, but once you’ve filled them with sugar, you get to send them out of the room to go be someone else’s hyperactive problem.
Valentine’s Day always featured the added bonus of showing up with a case of PTSD from having assembled and addressed three dozen valentines the night before with a kid who insisted they fervently wanted to give out valentines, yet couldn’t seem to get through the task of even signing them. The first couple of years I insisted I wasn’t doing the work for their valentines. This progressed to, “Okay, I’ll make and address half and you address half, but you have to sign them all.” The final year I gave up all pretense. I bought a package of Iron Man perforated cards and forged my son’s name on them. It was easier and less stressful that way.
There are things I miss about having younger kids. I miss going to the park. I miss bedtime reading and snuggles on the couch. But there are compensations, with no more class parties being one of the biggies.