Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Monday, September 3, 2012

An Open Letter to My School Age Children

Dear Little Blue Jays,

Times tables and vocabulary words are not the only things we tend to forget over the summer. Now that we’re a couple of weeks into the school year, let me remind you of some basic facts:

1. I do not determine the time the school day should start. My only job is to get you there before the tardy bell rings. As a matter of fact, if it were up to me, the teachers would get you from about 3:00 pm until bedtime instead of bright and early when you are at your best.

2. The reason I do not have another $25 cash in my wallet for today’s club dues/T-shirt order/picture order is because I just gave my last $25 yesterday for someone else’s club dues/T-shirt order/picture order. I am thinking of just adding the school district to our checking account to make it easier on everyone.

3. Please do not tell your teacher(s) every single thing you see or hear at home. There is an unspoken agreement between parents and teachers that we will believe half of what you say happens at school if they believe half of what you say happens at home. Don’t make it harder than it has to be.

4. I am not earning a grade here. I usually don’t know where your homework is, let alone how to do it. So how could it possibly be my fault if it is lost and/or incorrect? Let he or she who gets the sticker/reading reward/National Honor Society invitation be responsible for the work which earns it. I already earned my sticker/reward/invitation long ago and don’t feel it necessary to live that again.

5. I am happy to chat with you about how you feel about any given rule. I am, however, unhappy to chat with you about how because of that “stupid” rule you ended up with a red light/extra homework/detention. Let me emphasize that..unnnnnnnhappy. Behave yourself, even when you think it doesn’t make sense.

6. You will respect adults. The fastest way to earn respect is to give it to others—even those who, in your wise estimation, have failed to earn it. Please remember your place in this world. You’re truly wonderful. But you’re a kid.

7. Yes, sometimes I will interrupt my day and run up to the school with your forgotten lunch/uniform/permission slip/etc. But I will only do this as long as you continue to hold my hand or hug my neck in public. When that stops, the deal is off. More often, I will let you suffer the consequences of forgotten homework, alarm clock mishaps, and missed rides. And when I do bail you out, stand by for one of my “You oughta be more responsible!” lectures.

But here’s a fact I hope you never forget. Every time I sign an assignment book, wash a pair of football pants, drive across town to get clarinet reeds, make yet another PB&J for yet another lunch box, drive you early for a before-school activity, and send you off with a smile, my heart breaks just a little bit with something bittersweet. For I know that as busy as my little Blue Jays keep me right now, they will surely grow up to fly away.

But in the meantime, for the love of Pete, get your laundry done, go to bed on time, and don’t leave your good jacket at school again.


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  2. I love when I stumble upon (and I don't mean through the website) another writer-mother-everything elser, who views life with perspective and humor. In this post, I particularly love #7. I am three weeks into the empty nest after launching the fourth and final. It went well. I'll be checking in.