Back to School's Not Looking So Bad

My step mother Susie tells a story about her Grandson, Jarred. He’d been enjoying a half day preschool for years. The night before his first big day of Kindergarten, his mom informed him it was an all day class.

“That’s not going to work for me,” he said. His mom laughed and sent him anyway.

So it goes with back to school. Sometimes there are big fears, but then most kids seem to like it when they get there. And what’s not to like? There are tons of kids, really nice teachers (much nicer than me, the mom) and playground equipment. Plus, you get to learn stuff. Here are some thoughts on back to school in this season of change.

The Smartest Girls in the Room

My daughter does not lack for self confidence. One summer day a few years ago, my daughter and her friend Natalie were riding in the car with Natalie’s mom. They had been together in Kindergarten and were discussing first grade placement. Natalie was worried they might get split up into different classrooms.

“Don’t worry,” my daughter said, “They keep the smart girls together.” Natalie’s mom kept the front-seat fly-on-the-wall-mom code of silence and didn’t laugh. She reported it to me later with a huge chuckle. I wasn’t sure if I should be horrified by my daughter’s lack of tact or proud of her pride. As of this writing, we are still working on the humility thing. Daily.

I Told You So

My friend Mo had a similar story. Her son was doing his kindergarten assessment—cause for much anxiety in many moms. He wanted to waive his test because, as he told his teacher, “I’m smart.”

After a few questions and answers, the teacher complemented him on getting so many right. “See,” he said, “I told you I was smart.” Mo has some humility challenges as well.

School Supply Scavenger Hunt

This time of year also brings the mad scramble to fill the darned-elusive school supply list. Do teachers add wacky things to these lists for fun? Last year, I went to 5 stores looking for an “8 pocket portfolio.” No such thing. Five pocket? Sure, plenty of them. Seven pocket? No problem, lots to choose from including designs from a fluffy kitten to Justin Bieber. (Or is that the same thing?). Eight pocket? No store had even heard of them. So I sent my kid to school without one. I guessed this had been some sort of a test for parents. The teacher sent him home with one with his name written on it. So began another year of parent-teacher associations.

Another item on his list was a water bottle. He needed a new one after a long summer of setting them everywhere but in the dishwasher. When I finally found them, they were crazily priced $9.99. It’s an empty bottle for goodness sakes. All of the choices in front of me were proudly labeled “NO BPA.” Good for them. I told my husband I’d take a couple of BPAs for a lower price. He didn’t think that was funny.

Men and School Duty

This time of year also brings the open house meetings where parents get to sit in tiny chairs for an hour. One year, I was delighted to see my husband had signed up to bring cookies to a Halloween party. Sadly though when the appointed week arrived, he asked, “Can you pick those up for me?” Oh well.

On another occasion, my husband was working from home, so I asked him to pick up my lunch room duty that day. At lunch, kids raise their hands and the parents help them open packages, put cream cheese on bagels or wrestle with ketchup wrappers. One boy, Isaac Byrnes, a worldly-wise classmate of my daughter’s, needed help with a juice box. My husband stopped over and as a joke said, “Shall I call you Isaac or Mr. Byrnes?” “Mr. Byrnes will due,” he answered. My husband mentally gave him the most-likely-to-get-in-trouble-later-in-life award.

Growing and Learning

It’s amazing to see how they grow from the start of a school year to the end. One day my daughter said to me, “I don’t tattletale anymore.” Of course I probed for more info. She continued. “I used to want everything to be just right so I tattletaled. But it hurts people’s feelings. So now I don’t do it anymore.”

Good life lessons from school don’t always come from books. Welcome to another school year.

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