The September tsunami has hit. I had high hopes that this year would be different, and the back-to-school stress would be minimal. I tried. Oh, how I tried.
I went school-supply shopping — blessedly without the kids (their idea) — painstakingly digging through the picked-over bins at Target, Michael’s, Rite Aid, and Big Lots (yep, FOUR stores), looking for the exact right type of erasers, journals, and dry-erase markers.
Fun fact: my kid’s school supply list demanded 12 dry-erase markers and they only came in packs of 10, and there was only one pack left, anyway. The list also stipulated 3-hole wide-rule paper and they only had college-rule with no holes.
I ran into a friend, wild-eyed and frantically clutching her kid’s supply list. “I need a white plastic pocket folder. They don’t even MAKE white folders! Do you see any? Text me if you do!” she shrieked across Target. School supply shopping is like the least fun scavenger hunt ever, where the prize is an empty checking account.
That’s unfortunate, because September is also fundraising month. You remember how I was brought to tears by giftwrap? Well, that’s just the start. We’re also being hit up multiple times a day for charity races, political fundraisers, and Girl Scout cookies. And what kind of monster can say no to a Girl Scout, I ask you?!
I should start a charity to replace items my sons lose at school. We are barely a month in and we’re already down one water bottle and a uniform sweatshirt. That I painstakingly applied iron-on name labels to, I might add. Do you know how many uniform sweatshirts my younger son lost last year? 5. That’s right, FIVE. That includes a pricey Gymboree one that he had for LESS THAN A WEEK.
So I did what any desperate, broke mom would do and pawed through the disgusting lost and found. Alas, no Gymboree sweatshirt. I was tempted to steal a Ralph Lauren one but I have morals. Also, it had that kid’s name ironed on it.
Guess what else September brings: homework. But wait. Someone remind me: do we like homework now or do we hate it? We hate it, right, because it takes away from quality time with family and playing outside and our kids are overworked and stressed enough already? Or do we like it because it reinforces learning, teaches them responsibility, and prepares them for college? Whatever, I hate it.
I hate homework because the rules keep changing. Are we supposed to let them do their own work or are we supposed to correct it for them? Because I’ve gotten stern emails from teachers saying both. Either parents are admonished for taking over the take-home projects and turning in work that first-graders CLEARLY could not have done themselves (ahem, a scale model of the White House made out of popsicle sticks). Or we’re scolded for not correcting their spelling. Which is it, educators??
BTW, who watches Odd Mom Out? You must. It’s delightful. There’s an episode where Jill, an Upper East Side New Yorker, goes to a birthday party in the neo-hippie enclave of Brooklyn, where the moms are still breastfeeding their 7yo’s and making placenta smoothies. Jill starts to tell her daughter how to spell “quinoa” and the Brooklyn moms all gasp. “You’re not supposed to tell them how to spell! … It hampers their creativity.” Watch Jill’s hilarious response here.
So my 5th grader comes home the other day in a panic. The science project he thought was due at the end of the month is actually due tomorrow. I check his binder, which has been set up according to a specific school-sanctioned system that’s only slightly more complicated than filing a tax return. No mention of the project on that day’s homework agenda. (Yes, there’s an “agenda.” It’s like a day planner with cartoons in the margins.)
I dig through his “in box,” which I have cleverly set up for each child in an attempt to corral the massive piles of paper that come home in their backpacks each day. I flip through the math quizzes, fundraising forms, requests for additional classroom supplies, and lice awareness letters. There it is, the science project assignment. Crap, it IS due tomorrow! And wouldn’t you know, Dad’s out of town on business and we have soccer practice tonight.
But that’s not all. Amidst tears and moaning and copious amounts of pretzels, I encourage my son to tackle his homework. (You’ve got to nip procrastination in the bud or it will come back to haunt you, take my word.) My other son has put on his PJs, is gorging himself on cheese sticks and ordering LEGOs off Amazon, judging by the sounds coming from his iPad.
We can’t find the laptop’s power cord, which causes a tense moment when we fear all his work so far will be lost. Frantic texts to Dad go unanswered. We find the cord! We go to print the paper and… we are out of printer ink. Frantic texts to a neighbor are answered! She prints the paper, brings it over and… it’s the wrong version. We email her the correct version, she prints it, and we make it to soccer practice in the knick of time.
As if the cleats and shin guards and socks weren’t enough gear to keep track of, we are now required to bring an alternate white T-shirt to practice because a parent complained about the “shirts vs. skins” scrimmages. Either it stifles their creativity or promotes negative body image, I can’t remember. What is this, Brooklyn?!
No, this is my life. This is September. And this is KILLING ME, people!!
P.S. I’m collecting money for a new charity called “BTS is BS.” It supplies boxed wine to moms stressed out by back-to-school. Can I put you down for a box or two?