…And the Bell Rings! It’s Back-to-School!
By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
It’s a bittersweet time, that last week of summer vacation when you and family try to cram the last remnants of holiday sun and fun in your schedule. A part of you wants to just lay back, put those sunglasses on, and suntan on the deck with a cool drink by your side, not to mention a really good book.
If you’re lucky, you may even have a great view and even better weather: clear skies with no chance of rain and a lake or cottage to escape to.
But, then in the back of your mind, it creeps up. September.
Wasn’t it last week you were outside having a picnic with your kids, grilling dogs and burgers on your BBQ grill? Weren’t you wearing a spaghetti-strap sun dress with colourful flip-flops? Lawn mowers were running. Ice cream cones were dripping. People gathered on patio decks to toast their freedom and good fortune.
And then the CNE closes (and it’s not due to the poison of the infamous Cronut Burger). You’re dejected at the weather reports. It fluctuates between showers and thunderstorms, to sun and clear skies, and then back again to soppy drizzling that abruptly flares and rages into a monsoon! It’s like Mother Nature has a bad bowel movement, when only yesterday, she was basking in the sun of her own butterfly-induced picnic. You theorize that the weather is just as anxious about September as you are, and you can’t decide if you should bring a jacket or umbrella just in case, or risk it by rebelling against nature and wearing a skimpy bikini top (with neon nail polish for good measure)!
Back-to-school flyers start streaming into your mailbox like some kind of Crayola and Bic Bidding War, refill paper goes as low as 15 cents (when the only thing you remember being 15 cents was a popsicle back in 1975), and you’re bombarded with the pressure to buy, yet again, a new superhero and/or pink knapsack because Spiderman is out and Avengers is in, and Dora the Explorer was so last year, while Hello Kitty is, well, “Hello Kitty, Mommy, is you know…Hello Kitty!!” (Like, OMG.)
Yeah. Fun in the sun somehow turns into body-checking at Walmart for the latest and greatest supplies—when you and I both know, you already have stacks of binders, refill paper, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, erasers, sharpeners, and calculators in a box somewhere in the basement that you’ve collected over the years from these maddening Back-to-School-Labour-Day-Weekend-Sales.
Because really. You have a home office, too, right? And who doesn’t need a new highlighter, a few Sharpies, and whole wad of Sticky notes? Back-to-school shopping is a true Geek’s dream. (Well, okay. My dream.) But, it’s also as much a necessity as it is a back-to-school ritual.
And then boom.
You’re watching the clock. You’re doing the laundry. You’re loading up on snack-packs, peanut-free fruit bars, fruit cocktails, yogurt minis, water bottles, and juice boxes. Your kids are trying on shoes because now they need two pairs instead of one: one for indoor and one for outdoor—and of course, they want the ones that light up every time they take a step because “so-and-so” had a pair last year and you promised to get one next year, which is now this year—even though when you were a kid, you had to make due with very stiff, wooden clogs. And only one pair because hygiene and the evolution of viruses weren’t high on your priority list (Who ever heard of H1N1 in the 1970’s?).
It’s 8:30 p.m. The lunches are packed. The kids begrudgingly turn off the TV and sulk as they brush their teeth. The older one can’t wait to go to school to see his friends, but he resents having to put away his LEGO. The younger one has never been to school before and hopes the teacher will show her where the washroom is and understands that she needs her “piracy!” (Privacy.)
And you? You hope to God the teacher isn’t a crazy tyrant, or an indifferent, neglectful person whose favourite part of the day is his/her coffee break. You hope your child doesn’t get bullied and that he/she will make new friends. You pray that your kids don’t catch a cold in the first few weeks of coming in contact with twenty other students who may or may not be sick in their class. You fret about keeping lunches simple, healthy, and hope that your kids will actually eat them. And you, above all, just want your kids to be happy and well-adjusted to the transition of school.
That, and you hope you still remember your arithmetic for the times you’ll need to help them with homework, plus your diplomacy when dealing with disagreeable teachers, and/or self-righteous parents who believe their kids are the center of the playground. (Trust me on this. Kids aren’t the only bullies—they unfortunately learn it from somewhere.)
Oh, and yes, your coffee. Plus your wits. And your cheque book. And your pen. Plus your agenda. And your lists.
If you’ve survived all that… well, welcome to the First-Day-of-School and the adventure of Parenthood in the Arts of Higher Learning, Curriculum Style!
(Take a deep breath. Family Day isn’t until February of next year.)
But, it isn’t all torture and tireless worrying. Back-to-School can be equally rewarding. It’s a time of starting fresh, cooler temperatures, Thanksgiving, Halloween costumes, hand-drawn pictures, paintings, star report cards, and well, yes… Parent-Teacher Interviews.
Here’s what Michael’s First Day Back-to-School looked like going into Grade Four:
Well, the phone hasn’t rung with any emergency calls from Michael’s school, so I think it’s safe to say, he’s having a great day!
For all you parents out there who’s had to whisk their kids off to school today—and to all the teachers who have had to say goodbye to summer, too—and of course, all the budding stars who have had to brave the First-Day-Back, here’s to a successful school year!
(I have to prepare my little one for her big day, TOMORROW! She’s going to Junior Kindergarten all on her own. I think it’s going to be harder on me than it will be for her. At least, I hope so.)
How have you prepared for Back-to-School?
How did your child(ren) cope with going back today?
What are some hopes and goals you may have for your child(ren) to have a successful school year this year?
How do you think you can make the process of going back to school easier for your entire family?
What would you change for next year?