It’s the most wonderful stressful time of the year. December is supposed to be fun. I returned from Zurich on December 1, excited to jump into Chanukah and all of the other events during the month that build up to winter break. In prior years, life has slowed down a little in December. That was not the case this year.
First, there was the schoolwork. I think December in high school is otherwise known as ‘let’s see how many quizzes and tests can be crammed into a three week period.’ Studying for tests with Ryan is… um interesting. It’s typically a challenging starting from scratch period where we work very hard getting him to focus and memorize whatever he’s studying. Once he learns the content, it’s all review, which he does very well. However, to get to that point, there is a lot more time spent complaining than doing the actual work. As an example:
“I don’t want to study social studies,” Ryan whined.
“You have to study. I know you want to do well on the test,” I replied.
“But I hate studying. I just want to relax. I can’t wait till winter break when I don’t have any homework and I can do nothing.”
“Me, too, Ry.” (Please let him not have any homework over winter break!)
“Well why do we have to study? Studying is boring. I’m going to retire from school and play video games,” Ryan declared.
“Students don’t retire from school. It’s called dropping out, and you won’t be able to get a job if you do that,” I told him.
“I don’t want to get a job. I want to relax all day when I’m an adult.”
“How are you going to pay for video games if you don’t have a job? And Ry, we just spent five minutes talking about this and we could have gotten through 10 notecards by now.”
Then there were the doctor’s appointments. I’m having very minor foot surgery the beginning of January, and the surgeon wants to make sure I’m in perfect shape prior to that. So I’ve had to fit in a blood test, chest x-ray, MRI, and physical.
But the most time consuming thing over the past two weeks has been choir. Both boys were in the winter concert as members of concert choir. In addition, as a member of select chorus, Jordan had outside concerts at numerous locations. For each concert he had to be dressed in a black button down shirt, red tie, black pants, black socks and black shoes. When I got home December 1 and saw the schedule, I quickly ordered (overnight) a red tie and new shirt, since he grows out of clothes on what seems like a quarterly basis and did not have one in his size.
The events were in our community – at the middle and elementary schools, a memorial park (we were curious who the target audience of that one was!), and various senior centers. Some took place during school hours, but there was one evening performance and several in the afternoons that did not include transportation. These are difficult logistics to navigate for working parents. What made it even harder was some of those afternoon concerts were followed by rehearsals Jordan had back at the high school for the children’s theater musical, Winnie the Pooh. (Jan 12-13 for anyone local with young children!)
To summarize the past two weeks…
Week 1 – This was also Chanukah, and we lit the candles in between activities, but didn’t always succeed at having all four of us there each night!
- Monday – Pooh rehearsal until 4; both boys dropped back to school at 6:30 for a two hour choir rehearsal for the winter concert later that week. (for which I learned Ryan also needed a black shirt and red tie – cue Amazon prime!)
- Tuesday – Pooh rehearsal followed by Confirmation class at 6:30
- Wednesday – Pooh rehearsal followed by select chorus concert at 5pm at the memorial park (it was an outdoor, very cold concert!)
- Thursday – Holiday winter concert at the school – 6:15 arrival. The boys looked so handsome standing next to each other in their black shirts, ties and dress pants when they came downstairs that I had to get a picture before we left. Which made Jordan a bit antsy. “Do we really need a picture? We have to be there by 6:15 and we are getting graded for being on time!” (It would have been nice to have a heads up before 6:05 pm that being on time affects their grades, but the picture was worth it and we made it by 6:15 on the dot 🙂 )
- Friday – Pooh rehearsal followed by Chanukah dinner and service at our synagogue at 6pm
- Various weekend family activities – we all lit the candles together that weekend!
Week 2 – aka the week of ironing…
- Monday – Jordan’s two select concerts were during school hours, so he went to school dressed a freshly ironed shirt, pressed pants and a tie Dan expertly put on. He returned home after Pooh rehearsal in shorts and a T-shirt (yes, I know it was 30+ degrees; I don’t understand why teenage boys seem to not notice or be bothered by that).
“Where are your concert clothes?” I asked when I saw him. (We have all given up on asking “Where’s your jacket?” or “Aren’t you cold?”)
“In here,” He went through his schoolbag which was stuffed to the brim with at least a dozen packed folders and notebooks, three paperback books from English (two were finished months ago), and a giant graphic calculator, and triumphantly pulled out the wrinkled mess which had looked so nice in the morning. I said a quick prayer that the clothes were at least clean as he needed them again the next day. They were! And so I proceeded to do some ironing.
- Tuesday – Jordan went off to school once again in the black outfit and red tie. Two of the concerts were during school hours, but the third ended after school. Jordan got a ride from that location to Pooh rehearsal. Then we had a quick dinner and it was off to Confirmation.
- Wednesday – Pooh rehearsal and thankfully, his evening concert got cancelled. In a rare change of events, we hung out at home and watched TV (and of course I ironed the black shirt for the next day)! It was around this time when I wondered if I could convince him to drop select chorus next year.
- Thursday – I was in New York for the day. Dan worked from home and took Jordan after school to his concert at a senior center, picked him up 45 minutes later, and then picked up Ryan from his activity. When I got home much later that night, I was thrilled to see the black shirt did not need any ironing since Jordan had only worn it for an hour.
- Friday – After school, I took Jordan to (wait for it) yes, another senior center concert. When I came back an hour later to pick him up, the kids were still performing. I listened to the last two songs from outside the performance room. They sounded amazing – what a talented group! I knew then he would never give it up next year. Decembers are just going to be this insane for several more years, but at least next year, we’ll be prepared for what’s coming.
This upcoming week will be just as hectic as the last two. But I see the light at the end of the December tunnel. Winter break is in reaching distance. Thinking back to my first blog of the school year, I was counting down the school days (66) to winter break. Now there are only five!
PwC shuts down in the US between Christmas and New Year’s so I am looking forward to disconnecting from work. For the first time in many years, Dan is off every day but one during that week, as well. And most importantly, we will have a breather from tests and activities. I can’t wait to spend time with family and friends – shows, movies, meals, TV, books. It sounds heavenly. But the first thing on my winter break list? Teaching Jordan how to iron!