I finally booted my final child out the door for her first day of school. For a change, I had her completely prepared the night before right down to the shoes she was going to wear. Yet it wasn’t until I got up on that first day that I realized why I hate back to school time.
- Two words: school lunches. Packing a lunch for my two kids every morning is something I dread. What can I pack my son that will stay decent in a brown paper bag? There is little variety to his daily fare, and that makes me feel bad. My daughter, on the other hand, doesn’t see why a packed lunch can’t be a hot one. She has a nice thermal lunch bag, so I can stock it with a cold pack and various fancy cut-up fruits or a thermos filled with soup or mac and cheese. The scramble to feed the kids both breakfast and lunch sets me in a whirlwind first thing in the morning.
- Back to school traffic. Suddenly my quiet suburban streets are full of moving targets like a re-enactment of the movie Death Race 2000. It’s a mixture of terror that I am going to hit a pedestrian/bicyclist/giant SUV and annoyance that all these people are clogging the very same roads I need to use to get my kid to school.
- The nightmare of the school drop off scene. If you want to see people at their worst, have them jockey for a spot to deposit little Johnny or Janey safely at school and then take off like bats out of hell for the office. It’s an infuriating experience that makes me long to rack up points in that Death Race 2000 game. (Look it up.)
- Homework. Instead of being the benevolent dictator of summer, I am now forced to rule with an iron rod, overseeing the completion of school assignments. This can and does include the angst of coming up with an essay topic, my shame in not being able to help with math, and the stress of late night printer malfunctions as my little procrastinators attempt to get tomorrow’s assignment ready. And if I have to sign one more document lying that I’ve read and discussed the rules of Mr. X’s class with my kid, I’m going to scream. I already went to school. I shouldn’t have any homework.
- Supplies. No matter how many notebooks, pens, and pencils I buy, there is always something else one of my kids needs for school tomorrow. I find myself dejectedly wandering the aisles of our local Target, searching through the picked over back to school merchandise. Here’s a hint for purveyors of school supplies. If you run out of the same materials every year during the back to school scramble, next year order extra!
- The quiet. Yeah, one would think this would be a welcome treat after a summer of kids hogging the TV and needing snacks 24/7. But I kind of miss those unstructured, anything goes kinds of summer days. Now I am forced to get things done. No more Gilmore Girls marathons for me.
In a few weeks, I will have gotten into a rhythm with school days. The back to school flurry of papers to sign and open houses to attend will subside. I will resume a more ordered existence and potentially get a lot done. My kids will be learning and growing up, as they are supposed to do. I will be used to my quiet existence, at least until Christmas break, when they descend on me and undo it all.