By Ashley Taylor, A Dose of Reality
So, it is another school year and while I think my car looks a little better than the picture below, the feelings are still the same. How do you feel about the start of school? And the settling in to the routine? And all the work that comes to get ready to go back to school? And mostly, tell me I am not alone with the car picture!
For me, going back to school starts to get fun right around October 1st, because I feel like it takes me about a month after the new school year starts before I can finally take a deep breath and say, “Yeah, I got this. I’m back in the swing of things.”
But the month leading up to the first day of school? Don’t even get me started. Actually, do get me started, because otherwise this is going to be a really short column.
Know the myth of Sisyphus? Well, the month before school, I get to push about seven rocks up that mountain – not just his measly one.
Let’s start with the health forms that need to be signed and re-signed every single year for each child regardless of whether the information has remained and will remain exactly the same. But they don’t require a parent’s signature. Instead, they require a doctor to sign off – once again – that yes, Emma can be given children’s Tylenol in 2nd grade … just as she was able to receive Tylenol without any allergic reactions in 1st grade.
And getting the doctor’s signature?
That requires not only a trip to the pediatrician’s office in the middle of the summer, quite probably with both children in tow, where they will be holding their breath for as long as they can per their mother’s instructions so as to not acquire whatever August borne stomach virus is most assuredly lingering near the reception desk, but also requires me to pay money for each signature on each form.
I have to pay these people actual money to whip out a stamp – but not on the spot, mind you. Oh no, the forms must be dropped off and then picked back up in a separate return trip because I’m not alone in the having to get these forms signed off at the end of every summer I can assure you. And on the second trip, I get to try to avoid the risk of my kids’ exposure to late-summer strep. Think the Twelve Labors of Hercules, but in mommy form – and black ink our pediatrician’s name on the bottom of a piece of paper saying that yes, in fact, it will be okay for Emma to be given Tylenol should she need some. Or that Abby has in fact had all her vaccinations and her weight puts her right on track for the 3′s preschool program.
So that’s the first of the fun hurdles that will usually involve, at some point along the way, some tantrums and tears from one or both of my children, probably because there just isn’t a good enough reason for them not to cry.
Then we move right along to the teacher assignments. Pretty much on the day I have finally stopped my own tears and lamenting about the loss of the previous year’s teachers is just about the summer day that I start to have regular anxiety attacks about the impending arrival of the assignment of the new teachers. I am always reliable with my ever-present waves of worry, for sure.
I wonder, will it be the “right” teacher, with the “right” mix of kids? Or selfishly, will I have my favorite moms in the class? The parents’ night social and class parties are about a million times more fun if I know right off the bat that I will be spending them with people I actually like. I mean, I like everyone at my children’s schools, but I want the FUN moms, the REAL moms, the ones who totally don’t care that I frequently show up to preschool drop-off in exercise clothes that I have no intention of wearing anywhere other than Starbucks and Target.
And I worry, will this year be the year that one or both of my girls will get a teacher who just doesn’t “get” them? I know it’s coming, I know there will be at least one, but I want to keep spinning that roulette wheel without it landing on my number.
Another thing is that I always feel like I have to start the school year off totally organized. Which is almost impossible given the near constant state of disorganization on my desk; but yet, every year, the same need arises and I battle it with the same determination that, this year, I will in fact get organized and break the cycle of past “new year’s resolutions” not achieved.
I want to have my desk area ready to receive the countless numbers of forms, letters, papers, packets, etc. that I will be receiving within the first second of each child being in school … before they even start actually. Along with the teacher assignment papers will come at least two more forms that have to be filled out by the first day of school, plus at least two reminders of something to “make note of” for Back-to-School Night. Plus, of course, those darn (you know the word I really mean) doctor’s forms.
Yikes. I am sweating just typing it out.
I have barely even finished going through (throwing out) last year’s art work.
Another of my dreaded “labors” is that I want my car to be in tip-top shape for the carpool line. I mean the inside of my car. Tune-ups and oil changes can’t be seen from the carpool line, so those take a back seat to the appearance of a well-kept vehicle.
Let’s be real here, folks.
It is totally within reason that by Halloween, a random shoe can fall out at the pick-up, but you most definitely cannot have last year’s winter coat go tumbling out at the teacher’s feet on the first day of school. Sadly, by the time school ended in May, or hey, even along the way of spring when winter’s items really didn’t even need to be on hand, I was too tired to clean out my car and the stifling heat of this summer has not helped to inspire me in that department.
Thankfully, my hubby can usually be talked into doing that for me; although, then I wind up with at least one laundry basket full of stuff to go through, but I’ll take that over Emma’s new carpool staff having to fish free falling petrified french fries and chicken nuggets off the pavement for me in front of the whole 2nd grade.
Once school actually starts, it takes at least three weeks before the alarm going off in the morning does not inspire instant rage and resentment in me. It is at least three weeks before the odds of making it through a breakfast or a car ride home, or sometimes both (those are my lucky days) without someone crying would make the Vegas odds makers bet the house, because I have learned someone is ALWAYS CRYING.
Mostly it is over hurt feelings or not getting a turn or just generally that the world is against them (oh wait, that’s why I am crying, never mind!). It takes at least three weeks before starting bath time at 5:30pm does not result in something along the lines of, “MOM, it’s only 5:30. It’s practically the middle of the day, it is NOT almost bedtime!” Shortly after that, you can count on the fact that someone will be crying.
So, while I am counting down to the start of school – I really mean that I cannot wait until it has been about a month POST-start of school. Check back with me around October 1st. It is quite possible that I will have changed out of my yoga pants and into some actual clothes … but I will still just be heading to Starbucks and Target!
Ashley Taylor – I am a mostly-stay-at-home mom to Emma (8) and Abby (4), wife to my husband Robert (41ish), and an occasional nurse. At this point, I stand a better chance of creating world peace than keeping my house clean and organized. I consider it a good day when I remember to pick up both kids at school and tears are only shed by two or three of us. My main goal in life is to surround myself with people who are real and tell it like it is.