Back-to-School Blues

1765666c072076304c7597a927cec496Back-to-school excitement really starts waning when you have teenagers.

Don’t get me wrong I’m all hip hip hooray that school is in full swing, but what blows is that all the fun rituals you had when they were little are vanquished like the memories of a school day with recess.

The first one to go is the low-stress crayons, colored pencils and scented glue stick school supply shopping list. No more skipping through the aisles at Target looking for a Thomas the Tank Engine pencil-case and buying your teacher a carton of Kleenex along with a half-gallon of hand sanitizer.

Now, the supply list has the Texas Instruments TI84 graphing calculator on it with a price tag of $90.00. Why in the name of my wallet can’t kids just use their cell phones? There’s a free graphing calculator app that they can download. Again, just in case you missed it, I said free.

Let’s do a math word problem here without the aid of any calculator.

Sherry has already spent $50 on school supplies and paid her child’s high school $235 in “learning resource, activity programming, and technology fees.” Would she rather spend $0 for a calculator or $90? If you answered zero, congratulations! You’re a brainiac.

Then there’s the first day of school picture ritual that starts circling the drain as soon as your kid gets too cool to stand still for a photo or in my case your children claim “image privacy rights.” I really messed up this whole social media thing with my kids. I was a late adopter to digital-over-sharing and because I believed I was being a thoughtful parent I started out asking my kids permission before I ever posted a picture of them on social media.

Well, that blew up in my face.

My son, claiming he wants a clean digital footprint, because he’s sure he’ll have a job that requires the “highest security clearance someday,” allows me to post close to zero photos of him. And my daughter asserts that I take “the worst pictures ever” and declines to have me ever share her image. (In her defense I do take horrible photos.)

This means that last week, after seeing hundreds of adorable back-to-school photos on my newsfeed, I had no choice but to resort to posting a hand drawn picture of my daughter. I thought it would be a wake-up call to her. A “look what I have to do because you are such a photo control freak.”

Sadly, my plan of shaming backfired. My daughter took one look at my stick figure artist rendering and chirped, “It’s a huge improvement over the ones you take with your iPhone.”


What I really miss most about the first day of school is no longer reveling in the joy (and sometimes gaming windfall) that is the “Muffins and Mom” coffee (later changed to Parents and Pastries as a “reflection of our current parenting demographic” or at least that’s what the PTA flyer said.) This is where moms gather in the cafeteria after handing their kids off to their new teacher and catch up with each other about what they did over the summer.

The best thing about my back in the day Muffins and Mom experience was the over-under on what mom would be fake crying the most about school starting. Much like some people do fantasy football teams, about 20 moms would meet a couple of days before school started and get their bets on who would be the biggest boo hooer, who would have the newest boobs, and who would announce they were “taking a break” on the marital front.

After a couple of years we had to change the boo hooer bet to “second biggest boo hooer” since it was too easy to pick who would be the boo hoo queen. The same mom always won and it even seemed scripted. She would enter the cafeteria late, always clutching a handful of Kleenex, and then she would work the room going from mom to mom apologizing for sobbing and then blubber about how she’s going to “miss her baaaabies.”

Fast forward to when I had a child in third grade and the betting pool hit a trifecta. That big boo hooer had the newest breast augmentation and was on a marriage “time out.” Jackpot!

Maybe that’s what I need to do to get over my melancholy of missing those elementary school years — start some kind of new betting pool or game. I’ve got it. Bingo! I can play it this evening at the high school back-to-school night. The center square can be a parent who asks a teacher a question that is really a not so humble brag about their stellar child.

I think I’m feeling better already. 🙂




School Supplies + Tax Free Shopping = Cray X Cray

Cartoon10080202There are many different ways to approach shopping for school supplies. Some families order their bounty from the PTO. It’s a way to cross yet another fundraiser off the list. Others wait until after the first day of school just to make sure the teacher hasn’t made any changes or additions to their must have’s. But, I think most parents, in eager anticipation of the start of school, hit the shopping aisles at least a week before the big day.

As I seasoned mother I’m used to crowds associated with back to school shopping. But surprisingly I have never, ever, ventured out during a tax-free weekend. Last Saturday, I was at Target pushing my cart to the office supply aisle to buy some computer paper when I was overwhelmed by a horde of school supply shoppers. I had to abandon cart and by that I mean leave it in the men’s underwear section, grab my purse, fresh from the snack bar Diet Coke and shimmy down two aisles just to get close to the computer paper.

Now a somewhat sane person or an individual with superior time management skills would have taken one look at the hustle and bustle, promptly turned around and ventured off to less crowded environs. But none of the above describes me at all. Sure, I thought about leaving but then I heard a mom threaten her two daughters with “ugly notebooks” if they didn’t behave. A parent using school supplies as a punishment, well you just know I had to stay and see how this played out. I took a sip of my Diet Coke and settled in by the bin of wide ruled paper.

Disappointingly, the mother demonstrated very 21st century parenting techniques and did not follow through on her ultimatum at all. Her girls continued to throw pencil cases at one another and they still got pretty spiral notebooks with flowers on them.

As I was standing there contemplating the general lack of follow through in parenting (myself included) a grandma asked me if I knew where and what a dry erase marker was. Indeed I did and it was my pleasure to explain to her the wonders of the white board. I found out she was there buying school supplies for her three grandchildren while the family was on vacation. I told her she deserved a medal. The grandma laughed and confessed that if she had known how long the school supply lists were she might have changed her mind about helping out.

This got us talking about back in the day and the grandma said when she was a kid she went to school with a notebook and a pencil. That got me thinking and I’m pretty sure all I brought to school was lunch. Hmm, when did school supply lists start exceeding one page? Another question for you, what do kids do with all those Post It Notes and 3 X 5 index cards we have to buy? I’m certain in my parenting career I’ve bought enough Post It Notes and index cards to circle the earth. And what’s up with the graphing calculator that exceeds $100? Ouch, on that one.

I might have continued my visit with the grandma but two women were getting agitated over who was going to get the last pink composition notebook. My attention, as you can imagine, was immediately diverted. My money was on the bigger mom being the victor in the notebook grab and go. And this is why I don’t gamble; the smaller mother had some mighty long fingernails, and like a hawk grabbing a Yorki Poo from a backyard that’s country club golf course adjacent, the mini mom extended her talons, clutched the notebook and took off.

I figured that was my excitement for the day (and really it was kind of exciting) so I got my computer paper, found my cart and continued shopping on the other side of the store. While I was pursuing cleaning supplies two youngish moms were having an in-depth conversation about the boxes of Kleenex that were stacked on two shelves below the bleach. Both moms had Kleenex on their kid’s school supply list and their dilemma was whether to go generic Kleenex and get the basic blow your nose variety in the non decorator box or really show you care and buy expensive tissue.

I decided I should help them out and told them you can never go wrong with spending a little more on your school Kleenex purchase. Consider it preliminary sucking it. Oh, and this is most important put our kid’s name in Sharpie on the Kleenex box. That way the teacher knows you spent the big bucks and went Ultra Soft with Lotion.

In fact, put your kid’s name on everything most especially the graphing calculator that cost more than my first car payment.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival. If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.

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