It’s hard to believe, yet the time has passed and once again we (us parents) find ourselves amid yet another school year. This is indeed a momentous occasion in our small town of just over 20,000. Whether you are the parent of school aged children or not ... heed fair warning.
Beginning last Thursday and continuing through the end of May 2014 our streets will once again be clogged with pedestrians, automobiles, skateboards and bicycles. While, no longer a true ‘one horse town’ we are still a one junior and senior high school and cross town traffic is abundant.
As the local newspaper this is the time of year when we cringe at the sound of an Emergency Unit headed to a scene. Only to be followed by a glance at the clock to see if school or lunch time has let out. Vehicle versus pedestrian is never a topic we enjoy being faced with.
As a local business, we also plan our lunch breaks around the High School lunch period, as well as minimum days. It’s just plain cruel to find yourself out there amidst all the celebratory and somewhat oblivious ‘younger’ set. Add this to Friday lake/mountain traffic and well it’s fair to say we do our fair share of walking for food on that day.
My least favorite part of the early back to school festivities (possibly my duo’s favorite) is the Parental Homework. If you’re a parent you know what I’m referring to. Ours always arrives home on the first day with beaming smiles and a proclamation of ‘I don’t have homework, but YOU do.’
Before I complain too much, it is fair to say I am very happy I only have two children. The idea of completing those packets for three, four or more quite simply sends me to the fridge in search of a beverage. So to the parents whose only vehicle alternative is mini-van, large SUV or extended wagon due to family size ... I salute you.
In the day and age of all things automated and on-line, I must admit I do look forward to an on-line option one day. Theoretically it seems quite simple in idea and a terrific replacement idea to the ream of paper my children come home with for me to complete.
Just like any other program or service you are registered to on-line, each year you would simply log into your account, confirm any and all changes, hit update, agree to conditions and terms and voila. The info copies over for each child (perhaps they’re linked via your social or driver’s license number), you make the appropriate changes for child two, three or four and voila again. It transmits and updates automatically. School sites could print incomplete reports for teachers to follow-up on. Yes, this would be ideal for both the school sites and the parents.
Now, I know nothing about how this could all work or happen but wouldn’t it just be amazing? It’s honestly hard to imagine that this process does not already exist somewhere. If I can find the nearest Starbucks from my hotel room in Hawaii by the touch of my Smart phone, how can we not do this?
Until that time comes my children find joy in my paperwork. So much so that this year I decided to be a rebel and not have it fresh in their backpacks their second day of school.
My son (the more Type A of the duo) found this a bit unnerving. How could he not have everything back the next day? After all the packet cover sheet said ‘return ASAP.’ To which I informed him I understood and in my world of juggling a job, two kids and the first week of Back to School ‘ASAP’ would be Monday. ‘It won’t be late,’ I assured him to try and ease his stress frown.
Of course, it’s always comforting to hear all of your friends and peers commiserating over the same thing. Maybe next year I’ll organize a Ladies Night on the first day back at a local park. That way the kids can run and play – homework free – and we can each trade Emergency Contact info, as well as confirm that’s ‘still okay.’
In fairness, I’m happy to have my duo back in school. I do feel summer went way too quickly this year and no, I was not one of the moms dancing as I returned them to campus this year. A couple more weeks with my kiddos would have served me just fine.
So as we each return to the hustle and bustle my final thought is simple:
Please remember yours is not the only child that needs to make it to school before the bell. If you’re running late for pick-up, it’s better to teach your child patience rather than tragedy. Kids will be kids. True, they should use the crosswalks, they should look both ways and they should yield to cars when necessary. But grown-ups should also not park in the drop off area, allow their children out of the car while still in the street or speed past the crosswalk guard because they are in a hurry. Fair? I think so.
In the end ... we’re all in this together. So, please breathe deep, go with grace and think before you act. After all each action you make is an example to the child behind you.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.