5 Pet Peeves Moms Have About First Grade

Rant 14

School photosWhen my oldest was in preschool, my biggest school concern was avoiding death by SUV in the Frogger-esque parking lot during pickup time. Now that he's in first grade, we don't have any major problems to contend with yet *knocks wood, throws salt over shoulder, clutches rabbit foot* but I do find that I'm increasingly irritated by a list of admittedly petty school-related annoyances. Even though I really do like our school and every teacher I've met has been an absolute saint and I appreciate them very, very much.

Read along, fellow elementary school parents, and tell me -- is it just me? Should I get the hell over myself already and regain a sense of perspective because I sound like a big fat titty-baby whiner? Or are you kinda bugged by these things too?

The pay-in-advance school photo system. What's with this jacked-up deal where you have to financially commit to your kid's school picture before you even see how much of a cross-eyed face he made at the exact moment the shutter clicked? Why, back in my day we had the option of purchasing school photos after we saw how they turned out. (Also, we tied onions to our belt, which was the style at the time.) I know they usually offer a retake day, but come on, in this time of digital everything, how hard would it be to upload watermarked images to a site where we parents could take a look and decide if we want the $120 "Let's gift the entire family with 8x10s at Christmas!" package, or the $19 bare minimum "I ... wow. Well, I guess we need proof he went to school this year" option.

The books that come home from the library. I am fully in favor of reading and books and stimulating young imaginations and visiting libraries and learning about how to locate and check out books. However, I hate the weekly arrival of two or three super-thin easily-bent paperbacked books that get crammed willy-nilly into his backpack and instantly disappear into the bowels of our house because they look exactly like every other book we actually own and then every Monday I have to do a sweep that involves rooting around under my kid's bed which EW. Now, you could argue that this practice helps teach my kid personal responsibility and respect for library items, but shut up.

The fundraising incentives. My problem with school fundraising is not that it exists. I totally understand the need for families to try and hawk wrapping paper and cookie dough and whatnot in order to help the increasing budget challenges. What I dislike is how the school offers crappy prizes to kids who sell the most overpriced junk (or, let's be honest, whose parents fob off the most junk on their coworkers) and even awards these prizes in front of peers, creating a sort of vortex of materialistic ickiness.

The inconsistent holiday-related political correctness. At our last school, it was forbidden to teach or celebrate Christmas or Halloween or Thanksgiving. No costumes allowed, no pageants, etc. Okay, fine, diversity and cultural differences and yeah, I get it, but then sending in class-wide valentines (all 28 individualized cards, damn it) for Valentine's Day was totally encouraged and they spent a week learning about Chinese New Year. I'm just saying, these new holiday rules are a little hard to follow.

The hoopty water bottle that keeps getting sent home. This one might be specific to our school, but every first grader is given a water bottle to keep at their desk at the start of the year. I'm talking like a disposable bottle of Aquafina you buy at 7-Eleven, not a hardy reusable one. Then it's sent home every week to be washed. Even though it's basically crumpled and leaking and probably off-gassing BPA like a mofo. The kicker? You can't send in a decent one, because everyone's supposed to have the same thing. WHAT.

Do you share any of these pet peeves?

Image via Linda Sharps

back to school, boys


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hanna... hannahsmom238

The pay in advance picture thing is anoying but, i figure my parents are going to love it anyway. My child goes to a catholic school so there is no political correctness.

nonmember avatar Anna

I never buy the school pictures on the first option. If you wait they will send you a little bitty proff and another order form when they send all the other kids'. I hated when my daughter went to a school that sent home those lil books! We never lost one but I wouldnt let her take them off the couch! lol. And the water bottle thing... Eww !! Thankfuly we dont have that but they can bring a water bottle. No matchy neccessary! Im very thankfull to have my kids in a small 'old fashioned' type school so they wont be AS constricted as other schools. (not sayin there are things way different than when we were kids!) Oh and Im not a fan of the fundraisers... That crap is so expensive! lol. And yes the prizes do suck. So I guess you arent a whiney baby! But I dont sweat it... Just go with the flow and dont stress. :o)

nonmember avatar Cynthia

My kids' schools are all 'litterless' so there's no worry about crappy water bottles, however they do take their own. All their lunch stuffs comes home everyday so I'm often wiping lunch kits nightly and washing them weekly. Our photos are all ordered online after they've been taken so we don't have to worry about paying in advance for crap there. As for library books, all the kids are encouraged to have a special plastic bag in their school bag for their library books. Something that will protect them if the bottom of the bag gets wet and a 'safe' place for them to travel. My kids are also encouraged to keep their library books in the SAME place all the time while it's home. The inconsistent holiday 'celebrations' is a problem for us, but mostly because our school is not large enough to hold the population plus families so we're unable to all celebrate together and have to be regularly segregated. The fundraising incentives are pretty good at our school(s) but the 'limits' to get your name in are way too high given the economy. Having to sell $250 in gift cards to even get 1 entry to the prize draw is too high!

cassi... cassie_kellison

I don't have any of those complaints. He reads his library book and it goes right back into his book bag. He is sent home with 5 books in a reading bag, he reads them and straight back into his book bag they go. He had a Harvest festival for halloween which was pretty much a halloween party w/out costumes (they have a dress code), a Friendship Feast for Thanksgiving. They are still having the same parties, they have just put a new name on it for all the people who get offended by every little thing.

Mary Renner

It seems like every WEEK they are coming home with a letter to send money for this & that! Also-NO FUNDRAISERS...EVER!!! Not in this house! Plus, $5 for a field trip to the farm, plus a sack lunch?! Huh? Yeah, really nuts. Did I mention the piles of homewark-EVERY DAY?! For 1st grade!!! Yeah, I like old-school stuff.

teach... teacherchick77

Pet peeves FROM a 1st grade teacher: 1) Spring pictures when they make us send home the entire packet of pics so parents can choose which items to keep and pay for and which items to send back. And the teachers are responsible for harassing the students to make sure their parents are honest. Like I can control that! 2) Water bottles. I'm all for hydration on a hot day, but kids bring frozen water bottles from home that "sweat" all over their work and others' or water bottles filled with juice or who knows. Plus they suck it down and have to pee every 5 minutes! I'm still cool with water bottles (beats water fountain trips), but it is a hassle. 3) Field trips. Either we don't have them and parents complain. We go somewhere lame that's free (and not worth the waste of time away from school) or we have to hit parents up for extra money because we didn't make enough at our fundraiser. 3) Fundraisers. Taking academic time to try to explain to 6 year olds they should hit their parents up to buy wrapping paper. Did I mention it's a very socio-economic disadvantaged school? Hmmm. Then harassing 6 year olds to remember to ask their parents to send back in the fundraising packets. Those crap prizes are the only motivation we got. (And yes we acknowledge they are crap.)

nonmember avatar Tst

I have a first grader and yes- I agree with almost every one of these! Fundraiser a are my BIGGEST pet peeve...my husband's office has banned them- I'm a stay at home mom- and we live out in the middle of nowhere. So I just don't do them- BUT still have a devastated kid that he's not going to win a nerf football for selling $600 worth of cookie dough. The library books I'm very careful about- but a huge pain. They always send out home on Friday- so a whole weekend for them to get sucked into the abyss. Our school pics came out horrible this year....but thankfully I'd only PRE purchased a $35 package. I'll spend some extra money and go get professional pics with all my kids around the holiday. My kid doesn't have a water bottle this year. We thankfully did that in kindergarten but not first.

mommy... mommymonkey

I LOATHE FUNDRAISERS! I have 2 kids in elementary, a 1st grader and a 5th grader.

They get the same packets, have to sell the same absolute crap at jumped up prices, we live in a poor neighborhood with dozens of other elementary kids selling the same crap. No one can afford to buy the stuff, and if they can, they buy from their own kids. Then my kids are upset that they can't sell enough to get crappy prizes.


Christie Hall

Okay, I was nodding along with everything, because been-there-done-that, UNTIL the water bottle thing.  That's just wrong and gross and unhealthy.  Better than everyone using the same norovirus-infested water fountain I guess.  Lesser of two evils and all that.  But to not ALLOW kids to bring in their own proper water bottle?  That just  makes no sense.  Like, at all.

mello... mellowknees

re: the water bottle thing

You could very easily complain to the school that it's unhealthy for chidren to be continually re-using a disposable water bottle.  There are numerous articles available online that explain how these bottles collect and breed bacteria unless they are washed and sanatized in between uses.  Because of the narrow shape of the mouth on most disposable water bottles, it's extremely hard to wash them well enough to ensure they're not breeding grounds for bacteria.  Lastly, washing a bottle like that in hot water is known to break down the plastic over time, and even if it's BPA-free (which most disposable water bottles are), if it's PET plastic (type 1), toxic compounds from the bottle can leach into the beverage inside.


It's sort of ridiculous that the school can't provide an inexpensive alternative bottle that could be used.  There are all sorts of companies that make swag items that offer BPA-free reusable bottles.  I'm sure the school could come up with something that would be almost as cheap as a bottle of Aquafina, but was intended for reuse and would be consistent so everyone could have the same bottle.  They could even get them printed with the school logo/mascot/whatever.

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