This is the time of year I start to get anxious and find myself looking at the calendar and counting and recounting the number of days left in the school year.
Some of the reasons are logistical: I still do a bit of freelance work (writing, editing, and the occasional tutoring) and without the child-free hours provided by school, I have to lighten that schedule. Some of the reasons are, frankly, lifestyle: I savor each solo morning walk, each child-free trip to the grocery store, each early afternoon meal prep without someone asking when dinner's going to be ready and whether they really have to eat that.
It's not that I don't enjoy the summers themselves, it's just that I still haven't found exactly the right balance of structure and sloth for the kiddos and, of course, for me.
So it was with a chip on my shoulder that I attended The Girl's kindergarten field day at school yesterday. It's not that I didn't want to see her, or bask in the glow of her athletic accomplishments. It's just that after a week that had included field trip chaperoning, welcome desk sitting, bake sale cookie baking, and school carnival attending, I had some things to do.
Also, though I've never been much of an athlete, I've always been a competitor, and the memories of my own elementary field day experiences are entirely of other students: the cheers we made up as our fellow red team members raced down the three-legged race course; the collective groan when we lost the tug-of-war; the eagerness to run just a little bit faster in the relay to finish ahead of the girl who sat next to me in music.
There was an authenticity to those experiences. It was not high stake competition, but it was real. In my children's field days, no one keeps score, everyone wins, and the emotional satisfaction is provided by the parents who beam obliging from the sidelines--assuming, of course, you have a parent with a flexible enough schedule to be able to spare 3.5 hours in the middle of the week. It seems a sub-optimal situation for all involved. I'll see if I feel the same after The Boy's field day next week.