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Why the last month of school feels like an eternity – for parents

According to the school calendar pinned up at my desk, there are 17 days left of school (not counting one PD day.) Frankly, it couldn't come soon enough.

All of sudden, it feels like my Grade 6 son has half a dozen projects, involving poster boards and model building, and all are due in the same week. It's as if his teachers just realized that the school year is ticking down – which is curious since it's hardly news that school ends in June – and they need to check off some curriculum-completed boxes for the report card. Toss in those wretched standardized tests (called the EQAO in Ontario, or as my son and his friends put it, the Evil Question Attack in Ontario), and he hasn't worked this hard all year.

Too bad that it's all happening at the very moment that everyone is counting the days till school ends.

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Turns out, I am not the only parent to note this rush-to-the-finish pattern at school. A colleague told me that when his son was in Grade 9, the class got through the first half of Romeo and Juliet by June, and then ran out of time. "They just gave up in the middle," the dad said. Cause, it's not like the ending of Romeo and Juliet is important or anything.

Policing homework is hard work, and we all need a vacation from signing agendas, permission slips and all the other managerial labours that come with having kids in grade school.

Consider a recent post by Mom blogger Jen Hatmaker, who is claiming the title of "Worst End of School Year Mom Ever." A little presumptuous perhaps – if this were a real contest, she would have competition – but her words ring true.

"We are limping, limping across the finish line, folks," she writes, prompting a flood of shared sympathy in reader comments. "I tapped out somewhere in April, and at this point, it is a miracle if my kids are still even going to school." Their homework folders? Not checked in three weeks. "Are other moms still looking in the homework folder? I don't even care."

That's nothing. The real question is: Does the homework folder even exist any more?

But it's not just the school work that makes June feel like eight months squashed into one rapid-fire four weeks. There's also the end-of-year parties, graduation ceremonies, school trips, recitals – with the notices all arriving home daily like "a tsunami of doom." Ms. Hatmaker, the pain is shared: "I am pretty sure the final week of school will never be over," she writes, "and this is the end of me."

But, thankfully, it will end. And once the project rush has passed, then some earnest parents will grumble that their kids spent the last two weeks of June goofing off when they could have been getting an introduction to next year's subjects. Soon enough, the kids will be home and spending too much time on their iPods and squabbling with their siblings, which means by August, parents will be counting the days 'till school starts. This is the cycle of life.

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Press on, only 17 days to go. And then we get the gift of a glorious long weekend, when we can dance around a bonfire while the homework folder burns.

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More


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