On Campus
Aug 25, 2014, 06:50AM

Back to School Tears of Joy

Seriously, cut the cord, parents.

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Summer’s over and it’s time for the children to go back to school today, thank Christ. I never understand the Facebook posts bemoaning missed children; well-dressed as they are in bus-stop photos showing brand new backpacks, perfect outfits and impeccably coiffed hair. It won’t be a week before I get the automated voicemail message from the school: “Your child has charged a lunch. Please send money to their account. After three missed days of payment, your child will receive a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.” I fail to see how this is punishment. Their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can’t be worse than mine.

Apparently I’m in the minority with my “Don’t let the school bus door hit you on the ass” mentality. Other moms are sad to see their kids go back, and appear ready for the routine of micromanaging every aspect of their child’s existence. The numbers of reasons I keep finding to avoid Facebook keep stacking up to the point where I’m barely on there at all anymore, but I’ll skip it this week because of the inane back-to-school chatter. I especially can’t stand when parents complain about teachers or homework. It’s not because I’m a better mom but simply a lazy one that I have yet (in 20 years of motherhood and dozens of teachers) to ask for a teacher change. In my house, homework is done independently. They don’t want me teaching them long division the way I learned it in 1979; it wouldn’t help them at all.

I let teachers do their jobs. I trust them. They’re pros. I don’t do my own dentistry or auto repair, either. I’m the path-of-least resistance kind of school parent—I come into the school building for a special classroom event and because they leave out bowls of candy at conferences. I don’t transport children to or from school (that’s why God invented buses), walk children to a classroom or otherwise stalk my kid or their teacher, even via the increasing number of ways to do that electronically. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve never logged on to a single online account that the schools have set up so I can peruse every single lunch purchase, quiz grade or hall pass issued to my child. I trust my children and their schools, and I guess I’ve been lucky not to have a kid with a report card problem yet.

Will I fly my broomstick over to a school office if there’s an issue with my kid? Of course. Once, an English teacher told my daughter she was “using words that were too big,” complaining that “the other kids couldn’t understand them” when she read her report aloud. I flew over to see her. Another teacher one year complained that another of my daughters was “rushing through her schoolwork so she can write and illustrate stories in her journal.” She was in first grade, and had decided to write a novel. Broomstick trip. Challenge the kid, or let her write, honey. But beyond the occasional run-in, my deal with teachers is this: I won’t go over to your school and get in your way of teaching if you don’t come over to my house and tell me how to write/edit or what to cook for dinner.

Despite (or because of) the pharmaceuticals managing my moods and hormones, I’ve been known to have the classic teary-mom moment on the first day of school. The first day I dropped off my oldest at pre-school, I stood in the hallway and cried—not because she was sad I left, but because she wasn’t. She just waved and dashed off to her new life. In retrospect, I was proud my kid was confident enough to take on a new challenge. And when my son, the youngest of the four, went to his first day of pre-school (six years ago), I stood in the hallway fighting back tears again.

But I guess over the years I’ve become jaded to most of these potential tear-jerky moments, so now I just line up the lunchboxes on the counter, fill out the forests worth of paperwork that come home from the schools, and enjoy the silence before the school bus wheels screech again to bring them home.



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