Saturday, October 16, 2010

Back-to-School

This week we had back to school night at our daughters' school. BTS is where parents get to visit the classrooms, see their children’s work posted on the walls and listen to the teachers, room parents and principal talk about plans for the school year and how parents can help and support their kids through it. Here are ten things I love about Back-to-School Night.

1. Our principal has more enthusiasm than Cheerleader Barbie on her fifth shot of Red Bull and has brought the school into the 21st century and infused it with a much needed shot of energy!
2. Nurturing teachers who are still able to talk passionately about what they do and why they love doing it despite having been at school since 7am. (Twelve hours days should in fact be outlawed)
3. How the school holds school beautification day two days before open house so everything is tidy and pretty.
4. How the teachers manage to lay down the law about how they want the children to behave in class, while at the same time cleverly disguising the fact that they’re also laying down the law about how the parents need to behave.
5. Extra curricular activities. ‘Nuf said.
6. Teachers who are also parents who share a bit about their own lives and struggles balancing work, family, and marriage. You don’t feel so alone when your kid’s teacher also admits to struggling to get their kid’s homework done after school and practice and music classes.
7. Warm and fuzzy room parents. We have a pair of them, a husband and wife, who I swear, if they ran for elected office I’d be the first to volunteer to campaign for them. My daughter calls the whole family, the happy family because they’re always smiling, friendly and welcoming to everyone on campus and never seem moody, irritated or pissed off as if they just had a fight with their kid before heading off to school. (Unlike me at pick up and drop off, when I’m usually crankzilla after dealing with parking, morning clothing and hair battles and unfinished or lost homework)
8. That our school is a neighborhood, public school that has been around for sixtysome(?) years. We have parents at our school who attended when they were in kindergarten, now sending their own children there.
9. Information, information, information. The rest of the year, trying to get any accurate information from my children about what’s going on at school sometimes feels like I’m in a Soviet news blackout from the cold war era.
10. That for (at least) one night of the year, the principal, teachers, parents, staff can come together to support our kids and continue to make our school a great learning community.

Ten Things I Wish Were Different About Back-To-School Night

1. An over energized principal. It’s seven at night, I’ve been up since four in the morning, and at work all day…seeing anyone with that much energy can be a little overwhelming. Okay, I guess I really just wish I had whatever it is he’s on so I can be as peppy.
2. By the rules people. They’re just a guideline, folks.
3. Trying to get a sitter since kids can't come to back-to-school night.
4. Street parking or lack there of...
5. No pizza.
6. Okay, this I adore and hate – competition over who makes the best looking baked goods for the bake sale fundraiser. Some of the homemade items were over the top, looked like and were packaged as if they came from a high end bakery! I’m probably just bitter because I don’t think anybody bought my chocolate cake! If I’d only made the Halloween themed bloody finger sugar cookies with almond nails individually hand wrapped in cellophane with ribbons…
7. The fact that they made the janitor (and the teachers for that matter) pay a dollar for a cookie at the bake sale. I know it’s a fundraiser, but for Christ’s sake, the janitor cleans up the mess our kids make in the restroom, the crossing guard makes sure our kids get across the street without getting tire tracks across their midsection and the teachers spend (in some cases) more waking hours with our children every day than we do. Give them a cookie. Don’t worry about the buck.
8. How the school holds school beautification day two days before open house so everything is tidy and pretty. You can’t fool us. Yes, it looks nice for Back-to-School Night, but we know it doesn’t look like this all the time and the rest of the year there will be trash in the corners, dirty benches and tables, bathrooms which breed plague like bacteria – kids live here, we have them at home, we know. (P.S. I’m also probably feeling guilty that I had to work on beatification day and couldn’t go). Also, can I just say, I have never, ever before seen a principal who has a broom in his hand as often as this one does. First time I saw him with one, I did a double take. I wonder if he does that at home, too.
9. Professional room parents. Your kids have been at the school for five years and you’ve been the room parent in their class every single year? Don’t you think you could sit down and give someone else a chance??? (Not the couple I mentioned above. I actually have a parent crush on them – I’ve idealized them as the perfect parents. I know I’m probably wrong, but at least I can maintain my fantasy and feel like I have something to strive for).
10. Paperwork. If I have to sign one more sheet providing contact or emergency information, I think I’m going to scream and break my pencil. We have computer databases for that folks. Can’t we keep the info there and carry it over from year to year so I don’t have to spend more than three hours of my life (three hours I’ll never get back and am doomed to repeat) every year filling out the same old forms with the same old info?

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