06/26/2014 05:21 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2014

5 Telltale Signs It's the End of the School Year

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Who needs the calendar or steady barrage of Father's Day shopping circulars to tell you it's June? These five phenomenon occur like clockwork when the waning days of the academic year are upon us.

1. You're Broke.
Between the gift for the classroom teacher, the teacher's aides, the piano teacher, the math tutor, the babysitter graduating high school who wasn't much for cleanup but at least she could walk home and the niece graduating college after the five-year plan, you are clean out of $20 dollar bills. (Apologies if you are more of $100 dollar bill gifter, I didn't mean to insult you. Can I please be your babysitter?) It gets so bad that you could almost use a second job. But you can't do that, because...

2. Your Productive Workday Has Been Shot to Hell.
You have to be up at school to see the end-of-year talent show, of course, and your child would never forgive you for missing out on the end-of-year class picnic. Then the school districts get in on the act, fulfilling some budgetary or union contract obligation by cutting a bunch of June school days in half. Your to-do list becomes an archive, saved in its non-checked-off state for future generations to admire. It's enough to make you run for comfort to the cookie jar which is full because...

3. You Have Baker's Elbow.
Brownies for the ballet recital, pound cake for the Little League team party, chocolate chip cookies for the celebration of a completed Social Studies group project; you're churning them out like your middle name is Poppin' Fresh. You would like to buy stock in King Arthur Flour and Betty Crocker, but can't get out of the kitchen long enough to log onto E*trade. And if you're going anywhere past the stove it's going to be to the laundry room because....

4. The Lunch Bags Look Like They've Been Beaten. Bruised, torn, bearing tiny flecks of unidentifiable foreign substances that may or may not be mold, the insulated lunchboxes that started off the year in bright primary colors have been reduced, through constant improvised use as seats, soccer balls, and weapons, to an indistinguishable grayish brown. You weigh running them through the washer one last time. But would it be the cycle that finally separates the strap from the rest of the bag? That would probably make you cry, because...

5. You Burst Out Crying At Inopportune Times.
It's the inevitable result of being handed concrete evidence, in the form of a graduation certificate or a class council election, that Your Children Are Growing Up. The ultimate example was when the Kindergarten teacher rewrote Eric Carle's A Very Hungry Caterpillar to describe all the knowledge that our children had hungrily gobbled up throughout the year. Then she had them hold up wobbly, colorful pictures they'd drawn of butterflies and said, "And now you are beautiful butterflies who will fly off to First Grade!" Twenty-three moms, 15 dads and one kindergarten teacher hit the deck sobbing, delaying the children's American Sign Language performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" until we'd (temporarily) recovered our composure.

But it happens every year. This time it was at the end of the year school choir concert, when I realized that my baby is going to be a 5th Grader which is really not babyish at all, and that she and her classmates are now eye-to-eye with the choir director (who, it must be said, is not tall). I tried to sniffle in time to their three-part harmony rendition of "Lean on Me" but, in the end, leaning on the person next to me was as much as I could manage.