Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Aunt Kristin's Back to School Survival Guide

The new school year starts this week and many of us are still on vacation mode.  Luckily Aunt Kristin, survivor of more back-to-school registration days and open houses than I care to count, is here to help you and even the most resistant offspring ease into the new year.

Most back-to-school "experts" will advise you to start putting your kids to bed early (and up at the crack of dawn) a week or so before school starts. Do not fall for this trap!    Do you know how easy it is to get a child, who has been lying around all day watching cartoons and playing XBox, to sleep before 10 pm?  About as easy as getting your teenage son to hug you in public.  They won't fall asleep until the wee small hours and when you try to wake them early there will be all sorts of ill-tempered churlishness in your home.  Why would you intentionally make your children grumpy while they are still in your care all day long?  Let the teachers deal with the difficult transition from night-owl to early-bird--that's what they get paid the big bucks for! (An apology in advance to my kids' teachers...But you have been warned.)

When doing your new school clothes shopping, do not buy them an entire year's wardrobe.  Sure those boots look cute, but they will not fit in two months.  I always found that if I bought my kids the new expensive jeans they wanted for the first day, those same pants would be an inch too short come November.  I don't know what it is about the first month of school that makes them grow, but it never fails (often in direction proportion to what you just spent on clothes). Everyone gets one pair of jeans, a few new tops, and the cheapest pair of shoes they'll agree to be seen wearing in public.  Oh, and don't forget to bring your valium and your credit card, because if they're anything like my kids they'll push every single one of your buttons until you would pay any price for the shopping trip to be over.

The school supply lists seem to get longer and more detailed every year.  Do your best.  If there really is no such thing as a "3 5/8' X  8 3/4" matriculated ruler, standard size ONLY" you very kindly, using your best grammar and punctuation, email the teacher.  Explain, to the best of your abilities, there is no such thing in this hemisphere.  You will look like a leader, while the other parents are still frantically calling every office supply store in the tri-state area (afraid they are failing the very first test of School Parent).  Little do they know the way to a teacher's heart is not by following every little rule listed in the syllabus, but by sending little Mabel or Oswald, Jr. with chocolate.  Oh, and volunteering--a lot.

On the subject of school supplies, when you see them on sale stock up.  In our cupboard there is currently about 20 college-ruled spiral note books, 10 packs of filler paper, four packs of pencils, two packs of pens, and both lined and unlined index cards.  My kids, being in high school, do not receive a supply list--each teacher lets them know what they'll need once classes start.  It never fails that someone, about the third week of school, needs something akin to the above mentioned non-available school supply...Tomorrow.  Somehow my mothering abilities are so legendary that both my child and their teachers assume I can magically produce any office supply at 9 pm on a school night.  (Well if it's a spiral notebook or a box of #2 pencils, yes I can.)

Good luck to all students and parents--have a great year and learn lots!  And if your kids don't do well in school this year, no worries.  They can always live at home a little longer, eating your food and using your wifi, you know, just until they find their real calling...

No, no, no, no!  Hand them their spiral notebooks and their #2 pencils and push them out the door, quick!

*Disclaimer:  Teachers do not make "big bucks," nor do they want to deal with your sleep-deprived children.  I am not a child behavior expert, nor do I play one on TV.  Follow this advice at your own discretion.