I am still recovering from bronchitis. My brain hurts. Don’t believe? Read on. Want the good scoop, skip to number 5:
1. If back-to-school preparations don’t kill me, the first week of school will. I have to say, it’s not quite my end. We’ve had clothes, backpacks, schedules, calendars, work areas, supplies, snack ideas, extra socks, and juice boxes at the ready for weeks. The command center is ready to go. The kids are already back on their school sleep schedule, mostly because I rarely let them off of it. We’ve signed acceptable use policies, sent in medical forms, and learned how to tie laces. We’ve kept up with our nightly 20 minutes of reading. I have vats of anti-bacterial lotion and industrial-sized cans of Lysol stashed around the house (I refuse to let any form of the stomach bug in this house.)
So the kids are excited and I’m pooped. Every other email, ad, and conversation reminds me that SCHOOL IS STARTING! I assume this hype will go another week until Halloween pressure begins on Labor Day.
And it is hype. It is pressure. The first week of school is stressful enough with the newness, but it seems in recent years we’ve added an element of “hurry up!” and “get MORE excited (then calm the fuck down already, you’re too crazy)!” and “we need to get everything going 60 mph on the first week of school!” and “sign up for all this NOW” NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW!
There is an artificial, unnecessary urgency at the start of school, a feeling that if we (parents, faculty, and students) are not hitting the ground at 90 mph, we’re already behind three minutes after the first bell rings. More forms. More updates. More websites to check. More supplies. More doing something other than what we were already doing.
This is not something I lay at the feet of teachers. This happened back when I was teaching middle school. Partly due to the fact that I had ten different preps (e.g. different courses) to teach in twelve years, my summers were often spent in prep, like most teachers. The back-to-school meetings we had the days leading up to the kids’ arrivals were hectic-to-frantic. Meetings on top of meetings on top of new regulations, new students, more meetings, more forms, more more more. Nothing ever felt settled.
This is not to say that every year should be the same. We need to embrace change, be flexible, be willing to try (as parents and staff) new things on behalf of the children. But the panic, the let’s-do-this-to-the-point-of-exhaustion-until-Open-House needs to stop. It benefits no one. The school year is a marathon. We can’t sprint through the first three weeks only to limp until Christmas, then repeat in January.
I am, of course, excited to meet with my kids’ teachers in the next two weeks. I am excited to learn about the newness and the challenges they will have. I am proud to be volunteering at my kids’ schools. I just worry that September will zip by and we all will have only one question on the 30th: What the hell just happened?
2. I was invited to a small knitting circle meeting by my sister-in-law. It was, in a word, two hours of delight. These women talked, shared, laughed, and supported one another in ways I adore. I felt welcomed, and I made some real progress on my cowl. I didn’t talk much because I can’t knit and talk at the same time, and I was so thrilled not to have anyone asking me for juice every two seconds that I went into a very happy and quiet place.
3. For a back-to-school luncheon, I will be making five batches of various types of brownies over the next few days. I’m also trying to stay on top of the upcoming birthdays, as well as putting together lunches and snacks and breakfasts and lunches. I spend a lot of time assembling meals and mini-meals, so you can imagine my expression when my kids throw me a “Mr. Yuck” face at the dinner table. It’s pretty much the same expression I make when I face Mt. Dishmore every three hours.
4. My boys turn six on the first day of school. I have many feelings about this and am writing them birthday notes that I hope they read and someday read again. It’s going very fast. I miss my round-cheeked toddlers, but I adore my brilliant, innocent almost-six-year-olds, although they have a lot of work to do on their joke telling.
5. I am thrilled to be participating in the 48-Hour Film Project this weekend. We get a genre and required line tomorrow night 7:30, and by 7:30 Sunday, we have to turn in a completed 4-7 minute film. I am really nervous, but I miss performing so very much. It’s something I feel competent at, and yet have so much to learn. It’s a sweet spot to work in. I’ll keep you posted!