Dear Overly Excited Mom With A Child About To Enter Public School For The First Time -
This is an exciting time. You and your precious child are about to take the leap into the unknown…public education. Since you’re a reader of ‘mom blogs’ you probably also have Pinterest boards of back to school organizational ideas, new teacher gift ideas, fall class party ideas and any number of uber-crafty ways to impress your new teacher.
First – Pace yourself. I know you’re excited and want to make a good impression but play it cool. Go ahead and sign up for whatever volunteer time the teacher needs but remember that your child will be okay without you during school hours and probably have a fantastic time. The fact that you will show up on the first day wearing a top that isn’t 3 sizes too small for your boobs and that your child is wearing clean clothes and shiny new shoes has already catapulted you into a category that you can be proud of.
Second – Class parties. Sign up for one class party. One. Give the other moms a chance to strut their stuff. More than likely you will be called upon later in the year to plan a party when someone else has dropped the ball. Just be patient. You are allowed to help out at the other parties and bring your organic homemade cupcakes sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar but just don’t rub it in their faces. Don’t be alarmed when there are 5 jumbo bags of Doritos at any given class party and you witness your child stuffing their little face with this tempting contraband. If class parties is the only place they get to gorge on chips and store bought cookies and not-so-natural juice; so be it. All of that delicious orange Doritos dust will wash out and your child will survive. Their poop may be orange for the next two days, but they will survive.
Third – Let’s talk about the night prior to the first day of school. We call it Back To School Night in our district. You know, the night when you get to meet your teacher, see where your child will be sitting, sign up for PTA and buy school t-shirts. I know your school supplies have been purchased and lovingly packed in a reusable shopping bag and are waiting by the back door. Mine are too. But let me just break down back to school night for you.
Everybody and their dog will be crammed into your school this night. Parents, grandparents, older siblings, crying babies will all make an appearance and the level of humanity in your school will have busted out like a blow out diaper after your baby ate prunes and you’re on an airplane and down to your last wipe. I’m talking 1000% over capacity. Every walk of life will pass through those doors and you will see things that will make you want to run screaming and order the latest online home school curriculum.
You will see women in pajama bottoms and fuzzy slippers shuffling through the gym looking like she just rolled in from a bachelorette party that would give The Hangover a run for it’s money.
You will see dads eating their dinner right out of the McDs bag because taking a few minutes to finish their meal in their car would never occur to them. They will tip the super size fry container right into their mouth and then wipe their greasy fingers on their shirt. Because paper napkins are just too much work and too dang fancy.
You will see grandmas with curlers in their hair. Curlers. Still in their hair. At 6:30 p.m. Whether they have had them in all day and are waiting to take them out for Bingo night or they are freshly set and will be taken out the next morning; you’ll never know.
You will see people who look like they should be in the hospital. Like right now, hooked up to an IV, because you really don’t know how they are conscious and walking around. You know those after meth user photos meant to scare teenagers into never taking meth? Yup, that.
You will see women wearing make up that would make the Kardashian sisters proud and spray tans that will make you wonder if she has jaundice. You will also finally know who buys the bump it from that infomercial promising to give your hair that Jersey Shore lift that all the ladies are after.
I tell you all this to prepare you and lessen the shock. You will seriously question whether or not the unschooling trend where parents are just letting their kids figure things out for themselves, out in a field or on a farm, isn’t such a bad idea after all. Take a deep breath, it will be okay. As you bear witness to this insanity, keep a few things in mind. You are not better than anybody else on this crazy train but you have something that other moms may not. You have the energy and inspiration needed to help make your classroom a place where you actually want your child to go everyday. Some of these parents are plumb worn out and at the end of the day it’s all they can do to check homework and sign forms. Every single child in your school deserves positive attention, a nurturing environment and an education just as much as yours.
You must stay and be strong because your school needs caring parents like you and your partner. Your teacher is a brave, brave person and needs you to support her. Public school is a good thing. It will teach your child lessons that they may not learn in a sheltered or privileged environment. There will be bumps in the road in the years ahead but how else do we learn to be resilient and compassionate? Your school needs you. Your child needs you. Teachers getting paid crap wages to do the most important work of all need you.
Chin up sister, you can do this.
Another overly anxious mom