In retrospect, Friday should have been Bud's last day of school.
That sort of thing is always so much easier to see in retrospect, isn't it? And there it is, clear as day from this vantage point: Friday was the last "regular" school day, when routines were the same and the flow of the day was predictable. But I'm always afraid to set low expectations for Bud, to assume that "he couldn't possibly" or "he would just never." And so we ventured forth into these final two days; I tried to prepare him for the out-of-the-ordinary activities that would end the school year, and I hoped for the best.
Yesterday his class had a very low-key "end of the year celebration," in which parents were invited to come in for the last half hour, hear the children sing a song, and then eat some cake. No big deal, no high stakes, no pressure. Mrs. H, Miss Josephs and I had talked about Bud's level of participation in the singing portion of the program, and I assumed that one of three things would happen:
1. Bud would sit with Miss Josephs and the other children and listen as they sang,
2. Bud would sit with Miss Josephs and the other children and play the bongos as they sang, or
3. Bud would sit in the audience with us.
I didn't consider the fourth option: Bud would pace the classroom, furiously scripting something about going with Mom and watching the kids from his apartment building, as the parents arrived. He would get more agitated upon seeing me, and would burst into tears when he learned that we would not, in fact, be going to our apartment building (since we do not live in an apartment building). Bud would sit in the hallway with Mom and Dad, sobbing loudly, while the other children sang.
Guess which one happened?
A clear-thinking person would chalk that up as a learning experience and exit the school year gracefully at that point, don't you think? But not me. I didn't want Bud to miss the last day of school's "Fun Day." It was a lovely school-wide celebration with music, games, and a bounce house for the Kindergarteners. But it was just too much for Bud. I was there with him again - and again, he wanted to go to his apartment building. For the first hour or so, the other children made crafts while Bud registered his protest in shrieks and bellows: "No! You can't make a necklace!"
Things got better once the activity moved outside. He made it through the whole afternoon by seeking out activities after other children had abandoned them. He spent most of his time at the sponge relay site, where the other children used sponges to transport water from one bucket to another. Bud used the sponges to transport water from one bucket to his head. But he did bounce in the bounce house when one of the girls in his class took him by the hand and invited him in. And he did enjoy his ice cream, even though he insisted that we take his ice cream back to the classroom instead of eating outside with everyone else.
The fact is, he did a lot better at Fun Day than I did. I was tense and anxious for the duration of the seems-like-four-days-but-is-really-just-three-hours event. My dysregulation was heightened by the fact that when I arrived I was handed a "Fun Day Volunteer" t-shirt - bright yellow, at least two sizes too big, and so long that it covered my shorts and made me look like some kind of miscreant creeping around the schoolyard with no pants on.
It was only when I got home, my knees still wobbly and my shoulders still knotted with anxiety, that my husband pointed out the irony in the shirt I was wearing and I was able to have a good laugh about it:
You can't make this stuff up.
So, Bud's Kindergarten year ended more with a shriek than a bang, and I've made mental notes so that next year we will plan differently for these year-end events: scale back expectations, plan an escape route or two, get a smaller t-shirt or wear long pants. But, of course, you never can predict these things - sometimes you plan for the worst and get the best. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth, get through it, and hope that later on you'll be able to find the humor in it.
One thing is certain: nothing can diminish the fact that this was an extraordinary year for Bud. And that's a fact that remains the same no matter what your vantage point.