See you in September

Today is the very last day of summer vacation and I’m simultaneously melancholy about the fleeting nature of time, and excited to get back into routines. Every single platitude about time and children getting older (I’mmmmm getting older toooooooo) seems more poignant every year. I don’t want to be all “My BABIES” or anything, but I keep being reminded that I only have a limited number of summers to spend with the kids, and at some point they are not going to want to go bowling or watch Downton Abbey with their mom, so I Must Cherish Every Moment. Of course, all that cherishing gets tiring after a while, and so everyone is getting excited about back-to-school. I am, especially, looking forward to not working frantically between 7 and 9 am to get things done so I can Cherish My Darling Children All Day Long.

At this very moment, Cat’s in the Cradle came on the radio. Nice timing, 70s on 7.

The boys will be in Grades Five and Six this year; I have nice memories about Grade Six, but Grade Five was unequivocally the worst of my entire school career, due to typical ten-year-old Mean Girl Syndrome. I’m trying not to project, though, and Mark tells me that Grade Five Was The Most Epic Year Ever, so hopefully it’s equally epic for Jake.

Part of the back-to-school excitement is coming from actual certain knowledge of the kids’ new classes and teachers. Last week I received an email confirming a) each child’s teacher, b) each child’s classroom number, and c) the door at which each child is to line up at. This might sound like nothing to you, but it is certainly a big deal to me. In previous years, we wouldn’t know who the teachers would be or what classroom the kids would be in until 8:45 on the first day of school. Is that not a ridiculous system? Arriving at the school at 8:45, milling around the courtyard with hundreds of kids and their parents, looking for a teacher with a clipboard who would look up names and then finding the appropriate lineup. It was inevitable that there would be sad looking, teary-eyed children discovering that they’d been split from all their friends, and parents trying to Make The Best Of The Situation. I cannot imagine why it’s taken so long to implement such a normal strategy such as emailing parents to disperse information about teachers and classrooms so that kids can be prepared on the first day, but, continuing with platitudes, Better Late Than Never.

Filing under Other Things The School Rocks At, each fall parents pay a fee and school supplies are purchased by the school and distributed throughout the year. I cannot emphasize enough how appreciative I am of this policy, especially when I hear of my friends in other school boards frantically shopping for three lined notebooks in blue, green, and red or twelve number two pencils, yellow, all appropriately labelled, or a ridiculously unrealistic number of Elmer’s glue sticks. Unfortunately I often forget that not every school is the same, and I inevitably find myself thinking, on the first week of school, hmmm…I should go pick up some toothpaste and then ending up in Walmart feeling like I should just probably burn the whole store down and everyone in it, just to end the misery.

What is it about Walmart? Why is it so agonizing there? The boys and I briefly stopped in there last week to pick up some Benadryl and hand lotion, and it was a soul-destroying experience. It didn’t help that we were there on what appeared to be Shelf Restocking Day, and so the aisles were clogged with giant dollies full of product, and no product on shelves, along with people stocking up on sheaves of paper on sale for ten cents each. There was a giant lineup snaking into the “jewelry” department, along with six empty cashiers for 12 items or less. Fortunately that was us, and I wondered, if Walmart has some kind of conspiracy to keep people coming back multiple times just to get in the 12 items or less lineup. Why punish people who get in excess of 12 items? It makes no sense, but it must make sense to someone at Walmart Headquarters. It’s a puzzle for sure, but the bigger puzzle is if it’s really worth it to me to save $2 on Benadryl or if next time, I should just pick it up at the much-less-chaotic old-people Co-Op.


  1. Hope they have a great year. Is grade 6 middle or elementary where you are? I’m guessing elementary or you’d be even more Cat’s in the Cradle about this. Cherishing Every Moment is over-rated.

  2. “All that cherishing gets tiring after a while…” SNORT. and YES.

    Our school still does the “show up on the first day, look for teachers with clipboards” sorting thing. It’s dreadful. Out of our three, there’s always two that are joyously happy and one that has to brave face it, and then I come home and cry while picturing a year full of horror and sadness for them. UGH. I’m pretty impressed your school changed their policy – did you lobby for it?

    • It is dreadful – and it’s so inefficient! I didn’t lobby for it, but I thought good thoughts so maybe that did it? Kidding, I think the school got too big to do that – we are at 620 students now.

  3. Back when Oldest was in kindergarten and 1st grade (so 6+ years ago) the school used to send out the class assignments in something like June. Due to what I can only imagine was an unholy amount of hassling from unhappy parents seeking to change their kids’ classes, the principal switched to telling everyone no sooner than 2 weeks before school started. Based on some comments the principal made recently, I refuse to even tell him a system like the one you describe is used anywhere because I suspect he might start using it just to avoid two weeks of parental haranguing. Poor guy.

    I am feeling some anxiety for Oldest because he’s going into 7th grade this year. Absolutely nothing about his previous experiences in elementary school or middle school has given me any cause for concern, but my 7th grade year was so bad. Damn 12-13 YO girls can be mean. I’m hoping he manages to have a socially uneventful year and emerges from 7th grade unscathed.

    • And I DO understand that – I mean, no one wants to be harassed all summer. But then what would happen is that irate parents would show up at the office moments after finding out what classroom their children were in (if indeed they were unhappy – that’s never actually happened with me). So, I don’t know. Six of one, half dozen of the other?

      Junior high was terrible for me too – but apparently it’s different these days.

  4. I am dreading the beginning of school this year. I know that’s weird, but we’ve had such a nice summer. And I am having anxiety about my middle two because of a new school for one and a teacher I’ve heard mixed reviews about for the other. *sigh*

  5. bibliomama2 says

    The school we just left still does the clipboard-clusterfuck method, and it’s almost 1000 goddamned students! Eve is nervous about school this year, which makes me nervous, but it’s junior high and I’m going to drop her and her BFF at the front door and let them sort it themselves while I go home and polish off a bottle of tequila (I hate when people make jokes about drinking, THAT’S how strongly I feel about first-day-of-school misery). We’ve had a splendid summer and I don’t really want it to be over, partly because I always kind of look forward into getting back into the routine and then my super-jacked brain sends me into a depression spiral anyway. On the bright side, I looked in our storage closet and found so many school supplies that I miraculously put in the right place last year that we only had to buy a few binders and a package of pens.

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