The smell of pencil shavings permeates the air, kids’ tennis shoes are actually clean, not yet filled with various shades of rubber mulch, and bus fumes are hanging above every suburban corner because the first day of school has arrived!
I’m not clicking my heels up too much. It’s always bittersweet. I desperately love my children and enjoyed having them around for almost all 2,880 hours this summer, but I must confess, it’s time for my darlings to increase their mental capacity outside of my home.
Clearly, things won’t go perfectly the first week of school; but I am proud to say if both my children are accounted for after a summer of fun and vacationing, and if I can get them into the car with shoes and something other than a swimsuit, I will chock that up to a major success. I’ve learned to lower my standards substantially.
However, it always helps to have a refresher course on things to avoid when getting back into the school routines.
How to Prevent First Week of School Parenting Fails
Make sure not to get lectured by your child because they were the only kid in 3rd grade who didn’t have a snack or water bottle for the first four days.
Never mix up the Dora the Explorer and Spiderman lunchboxes. Don’t think that hazing can’t start in elementary school.
Always sign up to volunteer for school activities, but don’t be hopped up on Red Bull or a double espresso when doing so. Your calendar will yell at you later.
Avoid driving your minivan the wrong way in the drop-off lane simply because you forgot to read the email explaining the changes to last year’s intricate system.
Beware of forgetting to check the school lunch calendar on the day the cafeteria serves mashed “potatoes.” If you failed to pack your kids’ lunches, you will know as soon as they get in the car, what a disaster it was and how the stink of the potatoes made them want to puke – followed by gagging noises all the way home.
Don’t forget to show up for the PTO coffee, despite the fact you organized it, are to lead the meeting and also are the person who volunteered to bring the coffee.
Never forget to set a timer to warn you it’s time to pick up the kids because you’ll get a phone call from the front office sweetly asking if you were planning on retrieving your children. The niceness on the line only makes the parental embarrassment more horrifying.
Don’t assume you purchased your kids’ school supplies online earlier in the summer, especially if you are prone to gloat how you wouldn’t be enduring the end of the summer craziness at Target like everyone else. Because it will be your Johnny who’ll come home crying on Day One asking where his pencils and notebooks are.
And to avoid the worst fail of them all, don’t ever trust your memory by not double-checking the district calendar. That last week of your family vacation you took right before school starts will be ruined when you hear 14 messages on your answering machine, asking why your kids have been absent all week and if they need to be taken off the class register.
Not that any of these fails have happened to me. Aren’t we all perfect parents?
(previously published in The Kansas City Star newspaper on 8/8/15)
It’s hard getting back into the swing of things. Have you ever done anything ridiculous on the first week of school?