Tag Archives: Back-to-School

My Back-to-School Struggles Aren’t What You Think

I have less than a week left of summer with my kids. For some parents, the school bell can’t ring fast enough. For others, creek days, learning to dive, and making papier-mâché crafts still wait to be crossed off summer’s to-do list.

In six days two kids in my house get dragged out of bed by their toes, driven six miles to school, and put into someone else’s hands. I’ll wait 180 days to have my turn with them again. Which parent am I? You do the math.

I’m guest posting today at Triad Moms on Main. Come read about my annual back-to-school struggle. Pretty please?

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Filed under About Mom

A School Supply Rant

When I was a kid, one of the few things that took the sting out of going back to school every fall was getting to pick out new school supplies. Finally getting to use markers in fourth grade was the epitome of excitement until I found out they would only be used to diagram sentences.

And for my kids, this tradition of choosing a special notebook to scrawl their math work in is no different. So when we get the list of supplies, buy them, and fill and label a bag of supplies for each kid every August, I expect my kid to use what I bought.

school supplies

School supplies for my kids. Some were carefully chosen.

Every June I get a little miffed when my kids bring home what they’ve used all year and it wasn’t what I paid for. It wasn’t the special Tinkerbell notebook my daughter picked out. Some other kid got that. And look, that’s not the red folder I bought because scratched out in the tattered bottom corner is some kid’s name from the previous year.

Our school tries to encourage pooling supplies like crayons, glue, markers, and pencils. You buy it and bring it in and the teachers divvy it up for the kids. It’s a system that “works best.”

I can certainly understand that not every family can afford to buy school supplies. I’m OK with buying extras, contributing to a fund, anything. But if I splurge and spend a few extra dollars on a white three-ring binder that won’t fall apart the first month of school and Susie So-and-So gets hers from the dollar store, guess who ends up with the cheap binder and who gets my nicer one? If I put my kids’ supplies in a bag with their name on it, why don’t they end up with it? Do little elves decide who gets what? Do they run around the room and pick an item from Susie’s bag and put it on Johnny’s desk? Would Johnny like a Tinkerbell notebook? It’s like those Christmas swaps. You spend the $10 limit on a gift and end up with the gift someone grabbed from her yard sale bin, where it should have stayed.

As for the pooling, for half of kindergarten my son had only orange, brown, and gold crayons. I’m certain I bought him an entire box with a rainbow of colors. Why could he only draw muddy pictures? I volunteer in the classrooms. Pencils are never sharpened and are strewn across the floor. Glue sticks are always empty. The kids don’t care about those supplies because they aren’t theirs. But their scissors are labeled with their names, and I’ve seen kids panic when they misplace those for more than twenty seconds. So doesn’t keeping up with their own things make them take care of them better?

Kids can’t take ownership and responsibility if they aren’t required to keep up with their own things. When I was in school, we had our own bins filled with our own supplies. We had to keep things neat and in control. We learned organization. A pooling system doesn’t encourage that kind of responsibility. I’m sure it’s supposed to encourage sharing, but kids can share their own supplies. I’ve seen that in action.

Next week we take in our bags of brand-new supplies, ready for someone else’s child to get. I hope they like the notebooks my kids spent an hour picking out.

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Filed under About Mom

Cry Me a River

So it’s been a full week of back-to-school bliss. My days are filled with quiet cleaning, cool morning walks, peaceful time to work, hours to do what I want with no interruptions. And then at three o’clock every day, all hell breaks loose.

Here’s how our week has gone:

~Nearly everyone in my daughter’s class from last year is in another class together this year. “Why did I get left out?” Heartbreak for her, heartbreak for me. Not to mention the impulse to call the principal and ask him what in the world was he thinking doing that to my daughter? She shed a few tears.

~A fall down the stairs sent my daughter into a well-earned crying fit. More crying upstairs. I raced up to learn that my daughter had bumped her nose. And then when a mid-air flip attempt went awry, my son landed on his head. More tears.

~My daughter released a flood of tears one afternoon on the couch, just because.

~Tears flowed at the mere mention of writing thank-you notes for birthday presents my daughter recently received. This followed by a bit of rolling around on the floor and burying her head in a pillow.

~Homework, ugh!!! My son just didn’t get it and he wanted my help. Yet every time I read the directions to him and tried to explain it, he threw a fit. Did he or did he not want my help? I know he didn’t read the directions to begin with. Writhing on the floor, he screamed, “I hate homework!” Me too, man, me too.

~It took me 15 minutes to read one email due to four crying fits over a chair, a stool, a couch filled with dolls, and a knee to the eye. Each time I entered the room, it was a different story. “What’s wrong now?” I said, trying to keep my frustration to myself. My son kneed himself in the eye while doing flips on the couch. I didn’t even know what to say. After the whole head thing? Seriously?

~A math problem nearly sent me into tears. My son just wanted me to do it but I continued trying to calmly explain what he was missing. Hair pulling. Teeth gritting. Tears man, more freakin’ tears.

~Don’t even get me started about the announcement of bathtime and bedtime every night….

I’m amazed I’ve been able to get dinner on the table and homework done and the kids to bed on time (7:30 because they are so damn cranky). In years past, we’ve suffered nearly two months of this meltdown mania at the onset of school.

If you are a cranky mom this week, hugs to you. If you know one, give her a hug. Me? I think I just need a good cry.

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Filed under Can't Get a Break, Everyday Life