My Kids' Back-to-School Night Prep Is Giving Me Chest Pains

stressed mom

My children just returned to school last week. Normally I'd write something like, "Strike up the Hallelujah Chorus!" but from the moment they burst through the door at 3 p.m. on their first day, I've been inundated with information about their upcoming back-to-school nights. Seriously, there's been such an influx of forms and documents for me to sign, it's like tax season all up in here!

My oldest child just started seventh grade, yet we're drowning in more paperwork than I received from the college I attended. Ever. That's including the 4 years I spent there and the 20 since I graduated. And I'm even taking into account their bounty-hunter-style alumni association, which could ferret a donation out of someone living in yurt in a third world country.

Please, school district, I've only just recovered from the scavenger hunt/practical joke that has become my family's own week-long Amazing Race: finding school supplies. Cut me some slack! 


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I just put the van in park after driving all over creation in search of flexible protractors, primary-colored mechanical pencils, and an enormous vinyl binder that cost more than the bottle of champagne I was planning to buy to celebrate surviving summer with three boys at home. Give me a minute before sending me countless emails, each containing three downloadable PDF documents, for me to peruse before the big nights. Please, for the love of God!

What exactly do these missives say? I'm glad you asked. Hold on while I get my reading glasses and weight belt so I can skim them for you. 

1. Parking Guidelines: Seriously. Who knew back-to-school night was the new Woodstock? I've been parallel parking among the other suburban tanks for almost a decade now, I think I've got this one. But I suppose in a nod to "forewarned is forearmed," it's good to let me know in advance that I will be ticketed should I park anywhere outside of designated spots. Or, as they suggest, I could walk. Okay, let me start now.

2. Bring Your Checkbook! In addition to paying my PTO dues ($20 for one kid, $15 for another, the third is TBD -- great, I love suspense!), I should also be prepared to buy concert tickets, young adult novels, computerized sheet music, and everything short of throat lozenges embossed with the principal's face. (Maybe while I'm walking over, I should hold up a bank!) 

3. Print Your Child's Schedule & Have It With You: But you should also memorize it. (Why? Is another parent going to snatch it away from me if I pick up the last copy of The Giver at the Book Fair?) Also, I must note, the school follows an A through F schedule and back-to-school night lands on day C -- huh? -- so I should adjust accordingly while bearing in mind we'll drop lunch and study hall. Can I get an MIT grad student to explain all that? Thanks!

4. Get a Good Night's Rest; You're Gonna Need It: We'll be visiting eight classrooms in under 60 minutes. (But please also make time to stop by the aforementioned Book Fair and meet your child's counselor!) This is like speed dating but with none of the potential payoff and double the anxiety.

5. What to Wear: Okay, okay, this one didn't really make the list but we all know it's there. I don't know about your back-to-school nights, but in my town some moms treat this event like a Real Housewives casting call. I'm sorry, I'm not putting on heels unless there's a live band (and I don't mean the eighth grade jazz ensemble) and an open bar. 

P.S. You Should've Booked Your Babysitter in June: A babysitter, of course! Every teenager who isn't running track, starring in a fall drama, or headed to rehab was booked months ago. Unless you want to check on your brood via FaceTime from the confines of a teeny, tiny kiddie bathroom stall, you'd better call Grandma ASAP.

Don't get me wrong: I want to meet the teachers and hear about the exciting year that awaits my little learners. I really do. I just hope I don't have a nervous breakdown before I get there. 

Do you look forward to back-to-school night?


Image @iStock/mactrunk

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