Sunday, August 16, 2015

10 Things I Hate About Back to School

One more week until school starts.  Teachers go back Monday though so Summer is essentially over, despite the high temperatures.

Whereas many stay-at-home Mommies are celebrating the fact that their days will now be free of kiddos and they will have the house all to themselves again, us stay-at-work Mommies are dreading all the hassle that comes with the school year.  I actually had a friend that would throw a little party for the Moms every year on the first day of school. After the first-day-pics had been taken and all the backpacks zipped and everybody safely ensconced inside the schoolhouse, she would invite everyone over to her house and serve cocktails.  I was quite jealous that I had to be at work and missed out on the festivities.

Those Moms did not seem at all bothered by all the frenzied hustle and bustle of back to school. As for me, I hate it.  Here is why I am dreading Back-to-School:

1.  Back to School sales start in early July - This ruins the second half of the Summer.  Just seeing the displays in the stores causes a wave of dread for my girls. They moan and groan and carry on like it's the end of the world. Retailers:  How about instead of "Back to School" run an "It's Still Summer!" campaign with even more swimsuits, flip flops and tote bags?

2.  My oldest is going back to college - It's been really nice having Buffy home for the Summer and I will miss her.I'm not as much of a basket case as I was last year, when she was leaving for the first time. This year I am simply a blubbering idiot, alternating between kissing her on the forehead and nagging her to pack her stuff.

3.  Buying School Supplies - This is actually no longer a hassle now that Buffy is in college and Cissy is in High School, but for all of you with elementary age kids, I feel your pain.  You are given a ridiculous list of hard to find, very specific items.  Your options are, buy the pre-packaged supplies from the PTA which cost around $80, or drive all over town in a scavenger hunt for the supplies. My advice to you is this - shell out the $80 and forget about it. It's not worth the aggravation of checking every Walmart and Target in a 30 mile radius. Also, don't let your precious angel pick out the perfect super-hero pencil box because she (or he) will not get to keep that box.  The teacher just takes up all the supplies and redistributes them anyway. It's an early lesson in communism.
We learned not to buy the package deal in Jr. High when Buffy told me they didn't need all that stuff, just a few notebooks and folders.  Since then, we wait until after the first day to go get what they really need.

4.  Schedule Problems - In High School, this can be a nightmare. If your kid is doing more than one activity, fine arts program or sports, their schedule will always have problems. Just once I would like to have the start of the school year without a phone call from the counselor asking me, "does Cissy really have to play the cello?"

5.  After School Activities - Out here in the suburbs, after school activities are a status thing. If your kid isn't in at least one activity every night then you feel like an inadequate parent. Logistically, this is the real scheduling nightmare:  How are you going to drop Buffy off at gymnastics, take Cissy to piano lessons, pick up a "healthy" dinner at the drive through, then get Buffy back home so she can finish building the Alamo out of popsicle sticks and take Cissy to soccer practice while listening to her whine that she doesn't have the socks that go with her uniform. You have to be a criminal mastermind to pull this all together, let alone pay for it. My husband and I were run ragged carting kids and the appropriate equipment all over the place.  Luckily, by high-school age they quit doing a lot of this extra crap and focus on only one or two major things (see #4)

6.  Forms to fill out - lots of them.  In the computer age you would think there wouldn't be so much paper brought home on the first day.  You would be wrong.  What gets me is, we have lived in the same house the entire time my kids have been in school.  The address is exactly the same as last year and every year before that.  They already have all this information.  One form I had to fill out had me writing my address and phone number on the same sheet of  paper in four different places.  I got snarky with that one - I kept writing "same as above" and drawing big arrows.  Yeah, that'll show 'em.

7.  Building the Alamo out of Popsicle sticks - Who came up with this stupid idea?  What does this teach anybody?  Elementary school teachers:  stop assigning our kids to build solar systems or shoebox dioramas or replicas of Notre Dame.  It's a huge, frustrating chore necessitating another trip to Hobby Lobby for $40 of materials and an all-nighter trying to construct the thing.  A better idea would be... oh, I don't know....  ANYTHING ELSE!  (so glad my girls are over this stage)

8. Bad traffic -  I mean seriously bad.  Like adding an hour to my commute. And then there's the school zones. Be careful out there.

9.  Fundraisers - I always hated that elementary school class time was used in pumping the kids up to sell crap for fundraisers, in the hopes of earning cheap prizes that would break before we even got them home.  I also hated bothering friends, family and co-workers with pleas to buy cookie dough, gift wrap or barbecue sauce at ridiculously jacked up prices.  Who can afford it anyway?  We're all broke from buying school supplies and popsicle sticks.  So, sometime around Jr. High age, I quit doing it.  The world kept turning so I think I made the right choice.

10.  Fees - Be prepared to get out that checkbook because there will be fees - fees for uniforms, mandatory t-shirt orders, dues for this club or that club.  If your kid is in sports or drill team, you may have to take out a loan.  Orchestra has nearly $300 in fees, including an extra $100 cello fee.  What is that?! Violins don't have to pay extra.  It's unfair discrimination against larger instruments!  The extra cost for cello storage should be absorbed by the entire orchestra in my opinion.  What happened to all that communism we learned in Elementary school?

11.  Open House - Do not make me go to another open house!  This was actually so much easier in Elementary. You went in, met the teacher, saw your kids desk, took some pictures and you were home again in 20 minutes. Now, it's a 3 hour ordeal in which you follow your high-school kids daily schedule by traipsing from classroom to classroom and listening to each of their 8 or 9 different teachers give a little spiel, pass out some reading material and forms to fill out (more forms?) and then it's off to the next classroom. You better put on your running shoes for this one and....  you know what, just forget it, I'm not going.

12. Requests for volunteers - Every PTA, every Booster Club, every church group and the Girl Scouts will hunt you down and ask you to volunteer.  They NEED you.  They will apply a thick layer of guilt.  They will call, send emails and send home requests in the backpacks.  They are always surprised to hear that I am a working Mom.  Once they learn that, they will text me and ask, "are you working today?" as if coming to work 5 days a week is optional.  Yep, it's an everyday type of job, full time, sorry.  But then, they want volunteers on the weekend - all day Saturday and Sunday too.  "Are you doing anything this weekend?" they will say.  Yes, I'm resting up from the hellish week I've had filling out forms, driving all over town, and building the Alamo, (remember the Alamo?)
In truth, I do try to fit in some volunteering when I can. I have been on several committees and booster clubs, been a booster club officer, been a girl scout leader, and all while working so it can be done. But, it aint easy.

So, there you have it.  I got carried away, so it's actually a list of 12 grievances, not 10.  Ooops.  So, what are your Back-to-School pet peeves?


  1. The community school supplies... taking it all away teaches them nothing about taking care of their stuff. Our school hates us. Not only do we not do it we discreetly label everything with her name and inform the school if they try to take something away that we purchase its theft... love the article!