Back to School

Kids started back to school last week, after an at times exhausting summer break.   It’s great that the kids have that many weeks off, but it’s rarely a holiday for the parents.  At least if it is, then I’ve missed it!

10 weeks is a long time to entertain 3 kids and it’s even more expensive to fly or drive on holidays for a number of weeks.  All families in the US go during the summer, so all the holiday destinations double their rates.

In our case, our son is provided with an additional 5 weeks of school, which normally takes place in July, leaving us with some weeks in August for family vacations – which I’ll write about in another post.

Back to school.

Kids were super excited to start again, and so were we parents.  We got all the school supplies sorted, purchased the latest fashion gear and of course new school bags.  In my days, I would’ve been lucky to get a new back every leap year, but things have changed … or have I changed?

The schools in the US are, according to me and Mrs Judgebrix, brilliant.  They are open, fully focused on the children and provide a great educational foundation.  On top of that, they really encourage parent participation, which didn’t happen much on the Educate Together institution we attended in Ireland. Oh, let me rephrase it, they did “encourage” it, but if they didn’t like your ideas….you would end up on a missing poster.

So, to cut a long story short, the first parent night was organised and either my wife or I was going.  Given the fact we have three kids, and two of them attend two different schools, it was agreed that we would split this duty among us, and the person not going would put the kids to bed.

It was my turn to go.  As I neared the school, it was clear that other parents were going too.  The entrance to the school parking was starting to look as messy as any sports event and the battle for the remaining car parks arrived.  Based on last year’s experience, it was only a matter of time when the first cars would venture up on the grass coated free space – and this was normally started by some massive Hummer.

The school gym was packed with parents.  A lot of the yummy mummies were there, all dressed sharp and looked like an episode from Desperate Housewives.  Many of the dads had clearly been in the gym lately and were all in good shape.  There’s nothing wrong with looking great when going out, but I felt a bit odd, which was supported by my growing beer belly, my “I’m a techie” T-shirt and worn out flip flops.

Anyway, the school principal welcomed everyone back to school and presented the teaching staff.  Some of the key members of staff (nurse, shrink, assistant, etc.) said a few words, and then they handed over to the money talkers.

I call them the money talkers with a positive node.  These are the people who work hard all year on raising money, so the kids can get a lot of cool gadgets, such as iPad, SmartBoards, Mac computers, sound systems, etc.  I really admire these people and what they do, but at the same time these sales pitches are a little off during these welcome back to school evenings.

Most parents in the room started to get restless, and the chatter level went from humming to more like quaking.  This must have been a hint for the presenters, as soon after they finished up and all parents walked towards their child’s classroom like cattle.  None of really knew where we were going, but we still managed to find the right classroom.

We were greeted by the teacher, who in my case could’ve been best friends with my 18 year old niece, but her resume read like a seasoned teacher my grannies age.  I wonder when she started in college and what anti-ageing cream she used.

Despite that, she gave us a little speech on her plan for the kids  and how we can help the kids.  She had some solid ideas, one which involved bribing the kids to do homework.  If they could prove that they had done their homework, and if their parents had signed the homework log, then they would get $5 … WTF!

Isn’t a little early to start paying for this?  What will this mean for us parents, when kids do something good in the house?  It’ll ruin us!

No, it’s just fake monopoly style money.  But, the cool thing is the kids can actually spend the money on small toys and school things, and if they misbehave then the teacher will take money away from them.  I gotta try that at home.

Another year has started and I’m looking forward to many school events, the taxi service to support my child’s after-school activities and of course some of the battles to get the homework done on time.

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