Triangle Day is the one that broke me. My 6-year-old son attends a very enthusiastic Jewish day school, one eager to celebrate the rash of springtime holidays. And there was so much to celebrate this year! Not one, but two months of Adar! A Purim carnival fit for Queen Esther herself! The hundredth day of school! The birthday of the class goldfish!
Of course, by “celebrate,” I mean create a calendar of Spirit Days that includes no fewer than 10 distinct themed dress-up occasions in a six-week period. Royalty Day! Pajama Day! Dress Like a Movie Character Day! Decades Day! Why is Your Mother’s Eye Twitching Like That Day!
On Triangle Day, we quite nearly missed the school bus. My son cycled through the stages of grief as I desperately tried to convince him to attend school with a duct-tape triangle on the back of his shirt. He screamed, he cried, he flailed, he insisted: Triangle Day meant he needed to be a triangle, not wear a triangle.
He needed to be a triangle.
Here’s the thing about my son. He, like many 6-year-olds, is 6. Years. Old. Generally speaking, he could not care less about what he wears to school, so long as there are no tags touching him. But if you tell him that it’s a theme day, if you create the expectation that his classmates will be dressed a certain way, he will take it seriously and literally. On Sports Gear Day, he refused to wear a shirt with a soccer ball on it – “that’s a picture of sports gear. I need to carry a baseball bat.” On Crazy Hair Day, he screamed for 45 minutes because his close-trimmed hair could not be coaxed into a satisfactorily “crazy” style. He wants to fit in with his classmates, he wants to participate, but it’s got to be exactly according to his unknowable specifications.
Here’s the thing about me. I, like many burned out, pandemic-fatigued, full-time working, full-time mothering, barely conscious parents, need to rest. My. Weary. Bones. Know what I don’t need to do? Spend the 6 o’clock a.m. hour convincing a 6-year-old that a paper crown with tin foil taped to it is a reasonable replication of royal headwear. If my children leave the house in the morning wearing underwear, if they’ve each got left and right shoes on, if they have consumed a respectable quantity of oatmeal, then it’s a safe bet that our morning routine was a wild success. Please, and I truly cannot overstate this, do not make me add in time to explain the concept of “decades” to a first grader.
I can already hear the nay-sayers. It’s just for fun! Your kid doesn’t have to participate! True, but you know what is not fun? Consoling my non-participating kid when he stumbles off the bus in tears because everyone else in his class somehow managed to dress up as a mitzvah.
And so, my darling school administrators, I beg you. The kids won’t know what they’re missing. But the parents? Oh, we’ll know. We’ll know exactly what we have the great pleasure of missing, and we will be forever grateful. Cancel spirit days.