Back to school reality

As the summer sets on the horizon, I’m trying to repress thoughts of purchasing school supplies, packing lunches, and fighting with the kids to practice their music.

Entering any store makes it near impossible to ignore the back to school reality, so I bit the bullet and bought a more expensive knapsack for my daughter. Every time I turned around last year it seemed a pencil was poking a new hole through the bottom of her pack. I’m hoping that you really do get what you pay for and I won’t have to think about backpacks again for at least another year.

As for school supplies, I find it a sad sign of the times that every year we are asked to send more and more supplies with our children. I’m waiting for them to ask me to send in a teacher too. We’re also asked to pay for an agenda that is hardly used, except as an annoyance in further asking parents to sign it every day even if there is no note from the teacher.

All that said, at least the backpack and school supply pain is quick. It will be one or two trips to the store to stock up properly. Unfortunately, packing lunches and practicing music (or doing homework) are whole other stories. Those are epic school-year-long thorns in my side.

School lunches are likely at the top of most parents’ hit lists of least favourite things to do. It would almost be worth sending kids to a boarding school just to avoid making lunches daily, however, I actually want to have a hand in raising my children, so back to making lunches.

Before peanut allergies were ubiquitous, even if the pantry was bare, it was easy to slap together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a pinch. Kids could even be asked to make their own. Having said that, there is no reason that I can’t share the pain in a “misery loves company” concept and have the kids make their lunches; with or without me involved in the making process. Unfortunately, the grocery buying still lies firmly in my domain.

The “balanced” school-day makes matters worse, as we now have two sets of ‘snacks’ to pack: there are two “nutrition” breaks per day. I don’t want to add to the whole childhood obesity problem, but it is so embarrassing when a child comes home telling you that they ate everything on their first nutrition break and the lunch monitor ending up giving them something from the school’s food for the “needy” stockpile for the second break.

While I am actually shuddering as I think about lunch prep, that’s nothing compared to the utter frustration that surrounds piano practising.

The kids don’t want to practice. I don’t want to have to make them practice, but it’s part of my job description (you know the one that also includes having to make lunches, deal with the removal of splinters, and being vomited upon).

The “conversations” about practising have become so heated that I have even suggested that next year they consider not taking piano. After all, if they are not interested in practicing, then I am not interested in paying for lessons, nor do I want to enforce the practicing schedule.

If the kids chose to abandon the skill, in an ideal world I would get them to sign an agreement (even though people under 18 can’t legally be signatories on a contract). It would release me from any and all future whining, and/or guilt trips from them later in life, when they may turn to me and say “Why did you let me quit piano?”

Really, as a mom, I can’t win. It’s a fight over practicing or it’s blame for not making them see their lessons through. As I see it, they’re going to hate me either way, so it may as well be on my terms. I’ll start penning that agreement right after labour day.

I’m mad at myself for thinking about all of these school-year related woes right now. I need to repress the routine and reality of rigid bus schedules, buying supplies, packing lunches, and dealing with piano practicing for at least two more weeks.

Shine on summer!

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