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End of School Year Party Madness

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Nothing can prepare you. You can't train for it. People don't tell you what it will be like. They've blocked it out like the pain of childbirth. Maybe the sleep deprivation and exhaustion got to them last year.

The end of school year party circuit is a little like Burning Man without the booze and drugs. But there is ice cream.

Every year, as the schoolwork peters out, the parents get sick of driving and the kids' attention spans shorten, there is a plan hatched to hold an ice cream party. It's a classic celebration, charged with emotion and entirely inadvisable, given the number of life-threatening allergies in the classroom. Which is why it was prudent to wait until now.

Note: You may need a special email folder for containing the planning messages. You'll get 100 emails about ice cream flavor choices, potential allergens and which brands are certified kosher, organic and vegan. Then people will start talking about toppings.

The ice cream emails are just a test -- sort of like contractions. While these emails come in steadily at five-minute intervals, other big things are happening. Things like last-minute art shows and music class recitals featuring an invite that landed in your spam folder and resulted in a call from your sobbing 7-year-old that was witnessed by every good mom in the class. There's inevitably also a spelling bee, a luau and a barbecue that's scheduled at the exact same time as your older kid's school play. Which kid do you love more?

There's "Donuts with Dads" and a Special Awards Event (everyone's a winner!) for you to come admire and collect up all your child's art/schoolwork for the year.

Note: Rent a U-Haul truck and a storage pod. As much as you are tempted to leave a few glitter-shedding items behind, that would be unthinkable. You'll want to save them, if not forever, at least until they can be pawned off on a less-sentimental recipient as giftwrap.

You'll need a lot of giftwrap. "Save the Date" requests for the last two weeks of school start to pour in before Mother's Day. Every kid in the class born between late June through mid-September has to nab a birthday party slot before school ends and classmates leave town on their safaris, sleep-away camp and road trip adventures. Competition is stiff and parties book back to back, even on school nights. This makes it hard to find time to shop for teacher gifts.

Note: Some parents think they have that covered. They gave to the class fund. They are off the hook... Suckers!

Individual presents roll in throughout the last few days, but several parents wait till the last day, leaving you wondering if you're the only one who thought the group gift was enough. Certain room moms and PTO presidents in particular will torment you with this impromptu game of "Teacher-Gift-Chicken," coyly suggesting they aren't getting anything else, only to show up with a big fat Starbucks mug and gift card on the very last day. Just to be on the safe side, bake about 1,000 cookies and package them up in cute wrappers.

Just when you think you are in the free and clear, a well-meaning neighbor will suggest a block party to celebrate the end of the school year. Resist the urge to slap him/her. Offer to bring booze and/or build a bonfire with all the leftover "giftwrap". You did it! You made it through the school year. Congratulations! Time to blast some Pink Floyd and park it in a lounge chair.

You have exactly one week off until it's time to start shopping for next year.

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Note to this year's PTO/Room moms, classmates: I didn't mean you guys. You all are awesome. I'm talking about the other people, of course.

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