Friday, May 16, 2014

Appreciation Fatigue

Last week was "National Teacher Appreciation Week," which is conveniently followed by "National Parents of School-Aged Children Nervous Breakdown Fortnight." This is a festive time during which copious amounts of alcohol are consumed, prescriptions for sedatives are renewed, and emergency rooms log a marked increase in the number of people coming in with hot glue gun burns. The end of school is nigh for many of us and this means that everything between now and June 1st will be a blur of recitals, field days, tournaments, end of year celebrations, moving up ceremonies, volunteer luncheons, teacher gifts, assistant teacher gifts, coach gifts, and assistant to the coach gifts (for reals - I'm collecting for this one, care to donate?). It's just I certainly appreciate all the teachers and coaches who have taught my children this year, but I feel like I would appreciate them even more if the appreciation week was in, say March. Further, I would appreciate the ceremonies and performances and tournaments more if they weren't all crammed into a two week period. It's like tragedy fatigue when one disaster happens on the heels of another disaster, people get overwhelmed and are less likely to donate to victims of the subsequent tragedy. I feel like I have appreciation fatigue, so that by the time that last school-related event on the calendar (the Boy's end of the year ice cream party) rolls around, his class will probably receive whatever I already have on hand for ice cream toppings. (Why yes, dried basil flakes and pepper are delicious on vanilla ice cream. And they're certified peanut and gluten free.) Luckily, the Boy is indifferent about my presence at his events. Sometimes he outright requests that I don't come. Maybe it's in how I ask him:

Me: Do you want me to come to the second grade lunch?
Boy: I don't care.
Me: What if I promise to sit next to you and hold your hand?
Boy: Mom, stop!
Me: I'll play with your hair and sing to you?
Boy: No! Please DO NOT come.
Me: Are you sure?
Boy: Yes.

It's all in the ask.

As I said, last week was Teacher Appreciation Week and each of the kids' three schools had different approaches to the week and specified certain gifts for each day. Just so I wouldn't get mixed up, I set out all the gifts the night before so they'd be all ready in the morning.


The Girl's school was having a Cinco de Mayo luncheon for the teachers, for which the PTO requested two food items: multiple trays of enchiladas and bowls of fruit. One of the things that tickles me about the Girl's school is that whenever they ask for fruit, they specify that the fruit should be cut into "bite-sized pieces" and not left in big chunks "like they sell at Publix." This level of specificity puzzles me (have the teachers not thought to use a knife to cut the offending-sized fruit? Better yet, has anyone advised the teachers to...chew?) and has caused me to steer clear of bringing fruit to anything. So, with fruit off the table, I was left with enchiladas or donating a gift card for a door prize. I pondered this choice for about three seconds. I was 99% persuaded to go with the gift card because I'm exhausted, but 1% of me truly considered the tray of enchiladas. Ultimately, I rejected the idea because enchiladas brought to school at 7:30 and served at noon seem: 1. gross, and 2. a possible health code violation.

The Baby's school was having a teacher breakfast that morning, hence the Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I showed up to the school with the doughnuts around 9:30, on my way to pick up the Girl for an orthodontist appointment (because, why not squeeze that in amidst the craziness) and was reminded again of the thriving hippie population in my town. The table in the staff lounge was loaded down with all sorts of apparently homemade goodies, and I snuggled my store-bought hunks of fried dough right between some hard-boiled eggs (labeled "From our backyard chickens!") and some gluten-free flax muffins. I'm totally sure that the organic, free range eggs were delicious and certainly way better for you than doughnuts, but come on, this is 'Merica! Speaking of which...what do you think about this kids' t-shirt for Memorial Day:

Why yes, that's an American flag made out of bacon. Because
bacon is good for me. If you don't know what I'm talking about,
please, please watch the linked video.

So, that just left the Boy who had a write up a Teachergram for his teacher. This is the heartfelt, sincere message that he composed:

"You are special don't give us
too much work."
Ah, the Boy. Such a sentimentalist.


The Girl had to bring a book or a gift card to a book store for her teacher. Her teacher got a gift card to Barnes & Noble (thanks again, Publix), which I hope she uses posthaste before the company goes out of business.

The Baby was supposed to bring flowers for her teachers and was responsible for those two vases which look approximately 1000 times better in this picture than they did in real life. Not that it really mattered because the Baby told me that the vases fell apart immediately upon delivery, and that pencils spilled all over the classroom floor. I'm so glad I wasn't there for that fail. I guess I should have glued the pencils to the vases, but then they couldn't actually use the pencils. After the Krispy Kremes on Monday, I really didn't need the hippies after me for killing trees by wasting pencils.

The students in the Boy's class all wrote notes to their teacher and we gave him a personalized clipboard. True to form, the Boy's note had a message almost identical to the one on Monday's Teachergram. I got the clipboard at Cafepress and designed it myself. This is probably the one piece of non-snarky helpful information in this whole post. Male teachers are often difficult to buy for, and the Boy said that his teacher has actually used the clipboard already.


I was supposed to donate to our school system's education foundation on Wednesday, but I didn't. Apologies, to the Foundation, but please, I probably spent over $100 buying stuff for the teachers this week and I just couldn't do anymore. I would rather give the foundation $100 and do nothing else, but then I'd be letting my kids be the only ones to walk into class without flowers or notes or gift cards. Teacher Appreciation Week is like an arms race and I'm not comfortable with my children being casualties if I start drawing down.

You're wondering why I'm showing a picture of pretzels and fruit gummies for Wednesday, well, the Baby was lucky enough to be assigned the class snack on Wednesday. Hump Day, guys!


The Girl made a card for her teacher on Thursday. Her class has a pet tortoise named Tortellini, who is featured on the front of the card. She wrote a sweet message inside that expressed her sincere appreciation for her teacher. This, to me, is really what Teacher Appreciation Week should be about, not trays of congealed enchiladas, but what do I know?

The Baby got to answer some questions about her teachers. Her lead teacher is Mrs. C.

The assistant teacher is Mrs. P. I don't know if the Baby has sensed some tension between them, but she thought that they'd both be going to the beach this summer, but specified that they'd be going to different beaches. Hmmmm.

Our class brought lunch for the Boy's teacher and assistant teacher. I think. The husband of one of the other room moms was supposed to do it, but it seemed like he might forget. So, I honestly have no idea if this was actually done, but by then, I didn't even have the energy to care. This is exactly what I mean by appreciation fatigue. The Boy's teacher got a clipboard and the Boy's undying gratitude for not overworking him this year. Isn't that enough?


TGIF! I swear, I thought we'd never get here. The Girl had to bring flowers or a plant to her teacher and I decided that if her teacher committed to a live tortoise in the classroom, she'd probably prefer some tulips that she could actual plant in her garden to a $3 bouquet of artificially colored flowers from Publix.

The Baby had to bring in placemats for her teachers to use at the PTA-hosted teacher lunch. In case you've never tried, it is a nightmare to laminate anything with contact paper under the best conditions. Trying to do it on Thursday night at 10 pm after a busy week is just a circle of hell that Dante forgot to mention. The K helped me with this project and we're all lucky he'd already had a drink before we started. The results were not pretty and I used all of my best New Jersey cursing vocabulary. If you squint to read the names on the placemat you'll see that the Baby has two Noahs in her class. In case you didn't know, Noah has replaced Jacob as the most popular name for baby boys. I appreciate love stories about Alzheimer's and Biblical tales about whales as much as the next person, but I think that the popularity of the name Noah is part of a bigger trend of popularity for Old Testament names. I helped out in the Boy's class last year and there were boys named Levi, Benjamin, Abraham, Ismael, Hiram, and Elijah  Okay, I'm exaggerating, but it was pretty damn close.

So, now I am suffering from post-appreciation exhaustion, but I have no time to recover because we are in the thick of end-of-school and activity commemoration events. Each kid has an event scheduled for May 28th already, and I just received word that the "Schoolwide [sic] Celebrations committee" at the Boy's school has decreed that the school year will end with a book parade on that same day. The catch is that because of the Common Core's distain for fiction, the kids can't dress up like book characters, as they have in past years. Now the Boy's grade should dress like "Native Americans and Georgia Heroes." I really have no problem with the parade, but on top of everything else that we've got going on, scaring up a James Oglethorpe costume seems a little much. I'm thinking I could get out of it if I play it the right way with the Boy:

Me: So, you're supposed to dress like a Georgia Hero or Native American for the no-longer-a-book-parade.
Boy: Yeah, I think I'll dress like Jimmy Carter.
Me: Perfect! I think I dress like his wife, Rosalynn and march with you! Won't that be fun?
Boy: Please don't. I think I'll just wear my baseball uniform and go as Jackie Robinson.
Me: Great, I'll dress like a baseball fan and cheer for...
Boy: No.
Me: But...
Boy: I think I'll just ask if I can carry the second grade sign. Please don't even come to the parade. I beg you.
Me: Sigh, if that's what you really want...

It's all in the ask!


  1. I did exactly one thing for TAW. I'm sure you can guess what it was. You can see the sign in our yard. Although I feel a tiny bit guilty, I'm not exhausted. TGIF!

  2. I really wish our kids were in the same grades because in the TAW arms race I would always be behind you. You could totally de-escalate and I and my children would ALWAYS be behind you. And. This distain for fiction makes me so mad. Honestly. I don't think I'll even go watch the parade. And. Ismael! Hahaha! (I hope that wasn't a real one!)