We are coming into the month of June. This seemingly ordinary flip in the calendar strikes absolute terror in the hearts of parents of school-aged children. The date serves as a grisly reminder of what will inevitably occur. You are about to resume life without the benefit of the ultimate babysitter – school.
This realization can mean many different things to people, depending on the age of your children. There is all the work of getting them registered for camps, lessons, programs and summer school. Your chauffeur license better be current, as you are no doubt going to be doing loads more driving for the foreseeable future. If your kids are young you can count on performing as kind of a land-based cruise entertainment director for the next couple of months. Better don that tour guide hat as well. Family holidays are just around the corner. That little bit of time you had for yourself to go to Zumba or get a pedicure? Those activities will be totally out of the question until September rolls around.
Enough about the joys of summer. The school year literally ends with a bang – the sound of millions of students emptying their lockers of the previous nine-months’ detritus (roughly the gestation period for a human baby.) School lockers are repositories for all kinds of unmentionables that include unwashed gym clothes, notices that never made it home, lunch boxes upholstered in blue mold, decomposing fruit, mostly-destroyed oversized dioramas and crumpled math quizzes and vocabulary tests. When removed from the locker, the collective contents gets scooped into their cavernous scoliosis inducing backpacks for the final journey to the house.
Have you given any thought to what are you going to do with all of those pencil stubs, dried up highlighters and other bits of debris that sink to the bottom of the pack? More problematic are all of the assignments, tests, worksheets and binders stuffed with papers that have arrived on your doorstop as welcome as a sack of overdue bills. Maybe it’s time to face facts. Saving schoolwork amounts to C.R.U.D.
Parents who take an interest in their children’s education are to be applauded. But, salting away every classroom assignment does not send the right message to your budding scholar. You want your kids to have a balanced relationship with their possessions. You want them to be discerning in what they keep and what they choose to discard. Spare them the burden, after you’ve gone, of having to toss the lot.
This can be a real teaching moment for you. Grab a bunch of plastic garbage bags. Get rid of the squished bananas and candy wrappers. Gather your offspring while their school year’s paper output is still fresh in their minds. Engage them in a dialogue about what things they value. Make liberal use of incentives. Set some guidelines. Help them to define the criteria for what’s worth saving. Was it their best grade? Or, was the project really creative and fun to do? Did they really love their teacher that year? Did they win an honour or an award? Are there photos?
We always recommend a large memory box for each child. The container implies that judgments are required in the selection process. Special memory boxes can live in more remote areas of the house, visited from time to time, to add and delete contents.
Don’t allow those gnawing pangs of loss to throw you off course. Unless, you want to navigate through corridors of paper filled plastic containers lining your walls, be very discriminating when you are harvesting the school year’s yield. Keep a fraction.