How are you gonna keep the kids down on the farm after they've seen Paris? The same can be said for extra recess. It is the closing of the school year, and teachers have all but surrendered to the inevitable tide of pending report cards and twitchy children who have become allergic to the seats we have all worked so hard to keep them in for the past nine months. It is a time of field trips and art projects and cleaning out desks. That last one is an endeavor that I can remember as a somewhat endless task when I was in elementary school. Papers seemed to regenerate withing the dark recesses and corners of that seemingly finite space. And there's that package of erasers I brought in the second week of school, shoved way in the back.
There is some mild leverage left with fifth graders. We have announced to the students and their families that any fifth grader caught in any chicanery or hijinks would be subject to losing their spot on the stage come promotion time. Or worse still, they wouldn't be allowed to line up for the barbecue the day before. The pride of walking across a stage to receive a rolled-up piece of paper may not be as stirring as the thought of all those hamburgers and hot dogs. Leaving us with one final day to negotiate.
Anecdotal memory: As a senior in high school, our marching band went on a trip to Mexico. It just so happened that this tour began a couple days after graduation. We were told by our band director that if there was any mischief or tomfoolery that our diplomas would be rescinded. At this time, I was cruising on the edge of being a bad boy, at least as far as that description can be applied to a high school band member, and I wondered just how serious this threat was. Having been removed as Pep Band President by this same band director, I leaned in the direction of believing it was sincere. What followed was a rather chaste and polite trip to Mexico City and Acapulco with my girlfriend even though our relationship had proceeded somewhere south of the chaste and polite border back home. Meanwhile, we were witness to all manner of misbehavior by the "good kids": underage drinking, sex, curfew violations, curfew violations with staff. All the while, I maintained composure. I wanted to keep my diploma.
Decades later, I am certain that holding us hostage for our diploma was a lot of fluff. I can say this because of the repeated assurances we give our fifth graders even as the kids in lower grades hang from light fixtures and scream profanity at anyone who cares to listen. We are, effectively, inviting them back. Why would we want to keep this one group of knuckleheads from moving on?
It's a long week.