Tuesday, September 25, 2007

School Sucks! - A mom's perspective

First of all, let me go on record as saying that I hate the Back to School season as much as the kids, possibly even more, although they will offer a formidable debate.

Gone are the lazy days of summer...dinners at 8...no schedules...and the most important conversation revolves around who can invite a friend for a sleepless-over when I have to get up for work the next morning (the answer is generally no.) Summer inactivity is replaced by school activities, book fairs, chaperoning dances (to each child’s disdain), bed time schedules and morning threats, homework arguments, permission slips signage as they are running for the bus, or I the train. And of course there is always a last minute history (or science) project which I am reminded of at 8PM the day before it is due. Those are the things that make me crabby…and I haven't even gotten to the kids yet!

Stay at home moms have the back to school day highlighted, circled and starred on their calendar. They are thrilled to send their "cherubs" off to school for it means hours of peace and solitude. Granted, they did earn that rite after 12 long weeks of having kids underfoot 24/7. I wonder how many stay at home moms gather together on the first day of school and drink mimosas and Bloody Marys after sending their kids off on the bus.

I dread back to school. For a working mom, the day is no different than any other work day. I still get up and go to work, but evenings are filled with angst and turmoil. Every night there are conversations...OK...arguments over homework, studying, showers, bed times, cell phone usage, envelopes that need signing, money for school pics or pizza day, projects or book reports, clubs, dances and activities. I can barely keep track of myself and yet I need to keep track of the kids, their homework and activities after keeping track of others at the office from 9-5. It's enough to make me want to pour a Bloody Mary in my commuter cup on my train ride home.

Also, more money flies out the window in August due to registration fees, physicals, dental appointments, books, supplies, new clothes and graphing calculators (OK...so far I've only bought one of those, but dang they are expensive! Do you think in 3 years Adam will have a problem using Kat's calculator which has Kat + Nino penned on the back, along with a baby Tigger sticker?). Lastly, someone please explain to me why legs elongate and feet grow while wearing shorts and flip flops. Does it have to do with exposure to air and sun? If that is the case, do you think the kids would mutiny if I tried to make them wear parkas and snow pants next summer to keep them from growing? OK...I'm being a bit ridiculous, yet, honestly, the thought has flitted through my mind more than once.

This years "back to school" season was punctuated by Kat starting high school. My little girl lost in the halls among 1,900 freshman and sophomores. She has inherited my sense of direction...poor kid...and was quite lost her first week. (Her high school actually has two campuses; one for freshmen and sophomores and the other for juniors and seniors. In total there are about 4,000 kids enrolled in her high school; making their student body bigger than a small town.)

Along with this new endeavor, there is a whole new take on dress codes and bus routes. The junior high was strict regarding dress codes, but nothing compared to her high school. The high school ID's are used as measurements for all clothing. A top too low cut? Lay the ID card below the collar bone, if the top doesn't touch the bottom of the ID card, think about changing. Straps too thin? As long as they are the width of the ID card, you are golden. Skirts and shorts are measured the same way (lengthwise from the knee up). Who knew there were so many uses for a little rectangular piece of plastic?

As for bus routes, the junior high was extremely lax. Kids could hop on any bus and use it as their own personal limo service. Going to Marina's after school. Just hop on her bus. Nino's? Hop on his. In high school they are very strict regarding bus usage as Kat soon found out. Personality wise, Kat has never done anything half-assed. She has an infectious laugh and a quick wit that generally charms the masses, but occasionally gets her in trouble. During the first week of school she needed to meet with the assistant principal (AP). When she walked into the office, the secretary informed Kat that her top was against school dress code. It seemed to be a little too low for the secretary's standards. Because Kat is quite busty for her 5'1" frame, many tops appear inappropriate even when they meet dress code standards. When Kat walked into the AP's office, before they began their meeting, she sheepishly asked if her top was in fact inappropriate. The AP told her she was dressed fine and not to worry.

A couple of days later, Kat’s school ID was missing. She stopped in the office to get a temporary ID and was informed by the same secretary that again her top was against school code. Funny, before she left for school, Kat asked if she passed the ID test. Since her ID was MIA, I eye balled it and she seemed to have passed by my maternal standards which are much stricter than the school's rules. She was wearing a black cami/tank top underneath a sleeveless summer smock that tied in the back. She looked quite cute. The sleeveless straps appeared to pass the ID width test, but since it was woven, you could see the straps to her cami underneath. That was a big no-no by the secretary's standards. This woman has some serious issues. Anyway, Kat didn't argue with the secretary (and had no one in authority to back her up) so she left the office with her temporary ID and in Kat's own words a "smelly, ugly" t-shirt" from the nurses office worn over her cami. She had handed over her illegal top to the secretary and would retrieve it at the end of the day.

After school, she stopped at the office to return her t-shirt and obtain her illegal summer top. Besides the secretary, there were 5 boys in the office for detention. The secretary instructed her to go to the nurse's office to change. Kat...being Kat...and totally tired of this woman picking on her daily, looked her square in the eye with a smile on her face and said, "there's no need to go to the nurse's office since I am wearing my tank underneath". Kat pulled her smelly ugly t-shirt off and put the illegal top on over her head. She then turned to one of the boys in detention and said, "Could you please tie the bow on my back, I can't reach it." The secretary almost had a heart attack. I really wish I was that gutsy at 14.

I, of course, reprimanded my daughter about her lack of respect to adults. She, of course, felt persecuted and said she would be happy to show respect when not being attacked.

Kat then left to catch Nino's bus, since she was going to his house and not home. A sophomore told her that all she needed to do was change the bus number on her temporary ID to Nino's bus number and there wouldn't be a problem. Kat, foolish little freshman that she is, believed the sophomore, and was subsequently called down to the AP's office the next day and punished for forgery. Yes, the high school definitely takes their bus routes seriously. It is a proud parental moment when the AP calls to inform you that on the 6th day of the new school year your daughter is suspended from her scholastic limo service for two weeks due to forgery. Obviously, not well executed forgery. I later learned from Kat that it is very difficult to turn a 33 (her bus route #) into a 54 (Nino's bus route #). Ya think?

The irony of the story is that this all transpired because Kat couldn't find here school ID. She actually had it with her all along. It was "hiding" in her backpack. Inappropriate dress and forgery within 6 days. Probably not a record as far as the high school is concerned, but for us…WOW!!...we reached new heights! If this is what the first week of high school is like…I cannot wait to see what the rest of the school year holds. Adding to the craziness of everyday life...yeah...I agree with the kids...school sucks!!

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