Tuesday, August 9, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

(This article originally appears in 7/26/11 edition of The Review Atlas as a part of my weekly Practical Parenting column)

2009 Daddy takes the twins to Kindergarten
It's the most wonderful time of the year! The back to school ads are full of deals and my kids are about to be outfitted with shiny new sneakers. The day is coming when they will get off my couch and will return to the confines of their academic careers. I, personally could not be more thrilled.

I realize however that not everyone shares in my excitement. Take your first time mom out there. She's on the verge of a nervous breakdown as she's preparing to send off her first kindergartener. She wrestles with fits of fret concerned about who will help tie her child's shoelaces, who will open the straw in his juice box during lunch and what if he cries more than she does on that first day

Likewise those who are sending their youngest child to school for the first time might also disagree with my enthusiasm. This is the parent who's survived sending the older children to school, knows that it will all work out and that the children flourish in a learning environment, but now find themselves a little less sure as they shop for a backpack for the youngest family member. Shooing the last one out of the nest can be very heartbreaking for some mothers, it is their babies after all.

I imagine parents of college age students are not thrilled with this time of year either. How could they have anytime to mourn the absence of their child in the midst of tuition payments, book vouchers and dormitory costs? These parents are wandering the aisles of the department stores buying different types of back to school supplies. They push shopping carts overflowing with sheet sets, cotton balls, bulletin boards, ramen noodles and gallons of shampoo. They are kicking themselves muttering about how they knew this day is coming and wondering why in the world did they not set up a savings plan.

Finally, I wonder if teachers have much enthusiasm as they prepare on returning to the classroom. I'm simply getting rid of my five children, they on the other hand are about to be assigned twenty or more.

And it's not just the kids they have to deal with. It's parents. There is no room for indifference on the first day of school. There will simply be two types of parents creeping in and out classrooms; the cryers and the dumpers. The cryers are the parents who can't leave without taking just one more picture and getting one more hug. You can spot these mothers because they wear their sunglasses into the classroom in an attempt to hide their tears. I know because I've been there.

But I've since become a dump parent. There will be no tears from me this year. I will proudly deliver my chid into the capable hands of their teachers, plant a prompt kiss on their cheek (if they want one, I suspect my son's will dump me before I can dump them this year) and turn on my heels and vacate the premises as quickly as possible only to head to the nearest coffee shop.

So if you see me on the playground, on that first day of school, waiting to drop off my students, don't expect me to stand out from the crowd. I'll not throw a little party or even whistle when they open the doors. Oh no, I'll hold all my excitement inside until the last of my kids are sent off and snuggled into their new classrooms. Then and only then for a split second will I let my head fall back, I'll release a pent up sigh of relief and whisper a prayer to the heavens. I did it! I survived an entire summer home with five kids.

Somebody please nominate me for mother of the year and while you're at it could you solicit our local lawmakers to reconsider the nine month school calendar?  I'd really like to make a motion that we eliminate summer break entirely and move to a year round school year! Please! Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so! Thats why!

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