Leader: Good morning! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to be here today.
Parent group (in unison): Good morning.
Leader: June is officially upon us, and, as you know, I like to gather this time of year for a group wellness check. June can be an exciting, but chaotic and unsettling month for parents.
Parent No. 1: I need to leave in four minutes.
Parent No. 2: My sister-in-law was hospitalized this weekend and I’m actually jealous.
Parent No. 3: Of your sister-in-law, in general? Or because she’s hospitalized?
Parent No. 2: Because she’s hospitalized. I would seriously kill for, like, two straight days in the hospital. Nothing fatal. Just serious enough to get me out of the end-of-the-year biology presentation and the eighth grade picnic and the sixth grade carnival and fourth grade STEMapalooza, which are all on the same day because of course they are.
Parent No. 3: Have you found a plain orange T-shirt for the band concert?
Parent No. 2: No. I told Carson to wear the shirt from his sister’s Halloween costume. It says, “I’m witch and famous,” but he can turn it inside out.
Leader: Before we get any further I want to check in with the parents who are joining us via conference call today. Can you hear us OK?
Parent No. 4: Fine.
Parent No. 5: Fine.
Leader: If you haven’t done so, please place your phones on mute so the background noise doesn’t interfere.
Parent No. 4: Sorry. That was me. I’m at Walgreens picking up a prescription, 16 gift bags and Visa gift cards for the entire fifth grade teaching and support staff, plus that dad who helps with kiss ‘n’ go every morning. Oh my God, this line.
Parent No. 3: Can you check if they have plastic table cloths? Party City was sold out.
Parent No. 1: You know those take thousands of years to biodegrade. If Julius Caesar threw his son a graduation party, the table cloth would still be biodegrading.
Parent No. 3: I thought you had to leave early.
Leader: It’s perfectly normal to feel jealousy, ambivalence, hostility, even, toward the people around us when we feel stretched thin. We are simply responding to stimuli that tell us we are emotionally overloaded, which triggers a fight-or-flight response.
Parent No. 3: I’m supposed to cover six party tables in, what, newsprint? Does that biodegrade fast enough for you? I have twins. They’re graduating from high school. I’m hosting 86 people in my backyard Saturday.
Parent No. 2: Can I send my daughter? My son has a Little League game, which my husband is coaching, and my other daughter has a track meet followed by an end-of-the-year debate team dinner, which I’m pretty sure I agreed to drive the entire team to. I have to check my texts.
Parent No. 3: You did. My son is riding with you.
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Parent No. 5: I have hired people to cheer for my son at track meets.
Parent No 1: You have what?
Parent No. 5: It’s a track meet. You sit like half a mile away. Your kid never even looks up at the bleachers. I used to send my neighbor Denny. I told him, “Watch for Liam. When you see him run by, yell, ‘Go, Liam!’ ” I even gave him one of my hats to wear in case Liam looked up. He never did.
Leader: How did it make you feel to miss your son’s track meets?
Parent No. 5: How did it make me feel? I don’t know. Efficient. I went to plenty. The ones I missed, it was so I could drive my other kid to some other game or practice or meet or birthday party or study group. It’s not like Denny cheered for Liam so I could go golfing. What do you want? My parents came to nothing.
Leader: How did it make you feel that your parents came to nothing?
Parent No. 5: It made me feel normal! Nobody’s parents came to nothing! I mean anything! They dropped us off. They picked us up. I’m pretty sure my dad was golfing all day. I don’t know. He didn’t tell us what he did.
Parent No. 4: Same.
Leader: Do you feel that your parents had it easier than you have it?
Parent No. 3: Yes and no. I think they had more time for themselves. At least that’s my impression, looking back. But I think they missed some of the intimacy and details and little moments that we get to see when we’re watching all these practices and volunteering for all these school functions and driving all these kids around. I feel like my kids and I know each other really well.
Leader: But June is hard.
Parent No 2: June is hard! Because normally I’m able to be really present for my kids — physically and emotionally — and pretty much enjoy whatever I’m watching them do. But right now, it’s like, “Hurry up and strike out so this stupid game can end so we can get your sister to STEMapalooza! Where is your brother’s trumpet?” Like, the whole band concert, I’ll be making a mental grocery list for the eighth grade picnic instead of concentrating on how cute my son looks in his sister’s Halloween costume.
Parent No. 4: Exactly.
Leader: Do you think your children are experiencing the same sense of emotional overload? The same sense of being pulled in 10 directions at once?
Parent No. 1: How could they not be?
Leader: Do you think when they are short with you, or with each other, or when they, too, want to hurry up and leave a game, maybe that is a bonding moment? A time for you to lean down and whisper to your child, “June is hard, isn’t it?”
Parent No. 3: Admit that something is hard?
Parent No. 4: Won’t that make them feel anxious? Like we can’t handle everything?
Leader: It might make them feel recognized. It might lead to more of that good stuff you talked about so beautifully — the intimacy and little moments. The feeling that you know each other really well.
Parent No. 2: “June is hard, isn’t it?” I’m in. “June is hard, isn’t it?” This sounds way easier than getting myself hospitalized.