4 Things I Hate About Back-to-School

Back-to-school season is in full swing. Even though it’s great having my kids out of the house from oh-dark-hundred until 3:00 p.m., there is a price to pay. The school actually expects me to do some stuff. Nuts to that, I say. Here are four things I don’t give a rat’s patootie about when it comes to starting a new school year (yet, I’m still expected to pretend like I care).

Back-to-school Supplies

back-to-schoolI dread partaking in the crazy scavenger hunt, better known among parents as shopping for back-to-school supplies. And unfortunately, the older my kids get the harder it is to find some of that junk. Gone are the Pink Pearl erasers and Elmer’s Glue. Replaced by impossible-to-find items like bassoon reeds and HP 2-point-GEEK blahety-blah-blah-blah calculators that can do scientific notation up to seven digits past the decimal point (because, you know, six places past is just not accurate enough).

I sometimes picture teachers and administrators just sitting around the faculty lounge, puffing on their “high-falutent” cigarellos and eating Toblerone chocolates, while trying to come up with the stupidest back-to-school supplies they can think of.

Typical faculty meeting to decide on school supplies

Principal: Hey, guys, I got one. How about a book sock?
Math teacher: What the heck is that?
Principal: Beats me. I overheard two scrapbookers talking about them in the obsessive-compulsive aisle at Michaels. But let’s put it on the back-to-school list and tell the parents they have to get the one at Staples or we’ll hold their kid back two grades.
Shop teacher: And let’s say it has to be purple.
French teacher: With French titles.
Photography Teacher: Wait, I don’t see the Kodachrome film I requested for my photography class? Did it get bumped?
Principal: They don’t make Kodachrome film anymore.
Photography teacher (sinisterly): Exactly.

(Evil laughter all around through a thick fog of smoke.)

Teacher Nondisclosures

How dare you accuse my son of cheating! That’s a tattoo!

Teachers please stop sending me your threatening, back-to-school nondisclosures for me to sign. You know, the ones that say things like “I don’t want to hear a pterodactyl ate your child’s homework, even if it’s true. Your child will FAIL my class if he/she doesn’t do the homework.” So fail the kid already and keep me out of it.

I know you come up with this pseudo-legalese so those parents of entitled kids can’t say they didn’t know better when little Damien gets an ‘F’ in calligraphy because he never showed up or did the work. However, you really are dumber than a stump if you believe that a silly, nonbinding contract is going to deter any parent who shamelessly defends their kid for setting the chemistry lab on fire.

“Your Honor, no one specifically said my son couldn’t blow up the lab in the name of science.”

Last January, at the start of the second semester, I got so fed up I wrote my own little contract called The Dymalski Family Disclosure and asked all my kids’ teachers to sign it. Some teachers did, and wouldn’t you know it, those were the teachers we got along best with last year.

Back-to-school Clothes

I’ll take six pairs, please

Over the years all my friends with daughters have told me how lucky I am to have boys when it comes to shopping for back-to-school clothes. True that. My sons will wear anything from a Hefty Bag to old underwear that we’ve already used to wax the car. They really don’t care.

In fact, Quinn would be just as happy to wear the same shirt and pants 24/7. Especially if it meant he didn’t have to interrupt his routine with pajamas. He considers it a huge bonus if he can get away with not changing his clothes for many days in a row. Consequently, we’ve had to burn several items of his clothing, but hey, it saves on laundry detergent.

However, the downside of new back-to-school clothes for my boys is:

  • They HATE shopping, so they act like a dressing room is a torture chamber, and
  • They’re hard to fit

My sons are each well over 6’ and built like lacrosse sticks. In fact, Derrick has an inseam of 39” (according to the guy who fit him for his Varsity Jazz Band tux) and his waist size is 27”. Try going to Walmart and asking for 27” x 39” Levis. Ironically, Walmart stocks the reverse, in which case I can cram both my kids into one pair of pants and send them to school as conjoined twins.

Sack Lunches

back-to-schoolYou can count on one hand the number of times my kids have had school lunch since kindergarten. I have been making their lunches since time began. The problem is by third grade they swore off school lunch forever. Which is probably why I now have to scour the Internet looking for 27” x 39” jeans for them.

I admit I’m a bit of a food Nazi. I don’t eat red meat, dairy, gluten, or processed sugar. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s crazy, but I hardly ever get sick and neither do my kids. However, that DOES mean I have to keep sack lunch stuff on hand. This is more difficult than it sounds since my kids will snack on anything from a jar of peanut butter to a bouquet of parsley. Seems like every time I go to make a sack lunch we’re out of something. For once I wish a jumbo bag of chips from Costco would last longer than a single episode of Family Guy.

Now if I can just find a free public school that provides all required school supplies, employs teachers that never contact me, lets my kids wear the same raggedy, unwashed outfit everyday, and has a cafeteria catered by Whole Foods, then I’d be golden.

Geez, is that too much to ask?


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Stacy Dymalski is a stand-up comic who gave up the glamorous life of coach travel, smokey comedy clubs, and heckling drunks for the glamourous life of raising kids (who happen to be bigger hecklers than the drunks). This blog is her new stage.

For more of Stacy’s comedy check out her hilarious book Confessions of a Band Geek Mom available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.com.

11 comments on 4 Things I Hate About Back-to-School

  1. So funny. I don’t have offspring but I HAVE gotten wrapped up in the back-to-school rush for my BF’s 2 boys. THANK GOODNESS they go to private school so the wear Dickey shorts/pants and polo shirts in their choice of 3 colors. This year, the school loosened up a bit and they can wear ANY color shoes and socks!

    THANK GOODNESS [again] that they pay a fee and then are presented with all the school supplies they need.

    DID I mention that all the parents have to pay $250/year for their mandatory iPads.

    UGH! BTS is a nightmare.

    GO GET ‘EM STAC!!!

    1. Thanks, Hillary, so good to hear from you! Yes, private school can be a saving grace, but you definitely end up paying for it…via money. But then again you pay for public school with your time…and some money. This year I had to bay $550 in school fees for both kids for just the first semester. And they go to public school! (Don’t even get me started on how Utah state government doesn’t support public school. That’s a topic for a whole ‘nother post!)

      I think you’re right in that you don’t have to have kids to feel the brunt of BTS. When I lived in Huntington Beach, before I had kids, I commuted to Long Beach for work. Once Long Beach State was back in session, my 20 minute commute took an hour (sometimes longer). I cursed BTS even then!

  2. Are you going to make your kids pay you back? Whats the rate on interest and will there be added points?

    Invest in Big Pharma, they are about to bring out ‘guilt in a pill’ so your kids WILL pay.

    Sincerely, Phillip

    PS I know what will brighten your day…my inseam is 27″ I can see the gum under your table.

    1. Phillip, as a loving mother, here is what I regularly tell my kids in regard to them leaving home for college: “Just wait until you see your check-out bill when you finally leave this house for good.”

      Guilt pill. Love it. Where can I get it now? That would save me a lot of unnecessary moaning and whining if I could just get my boys to take a pill to feel guilty. Modern medicine is amazing!

      1. Dear Stacy, The Big Pharma company (Sandoz who brought us ‘purple barrels’) is probably doing studies right now. Just call this 800 number…800-DRE-AMER and your prayers will be at least accommodated in some bizarre form. The one who takes the ‘Guilt Pill’ should always be accompanied by a seasoned ‘Guide’ else the subject open their wallet and give all the money away and then give all their clothes away and then be placed in constraints before they give any body parts away. You just have to be sure that you are first in line to get your payback and DON’T take any checks. Cash makes no enemies. Phillip

  3. how about green pens!?!? Bc apparently red isn’t good enough for grading papers. Then the nutso teacher went crazy bc a kid was using a highlighter. Have you ever seen green pens sold in a pack!

    1. Green pens? Seriously? I’m not sure I’d even know where to find a green pen. Staples, I guess, but if’ they’re out or don’t carry them, then I guess you’re screwed.

      Maybe send our kid in with green finger paint and claim that’s the best you can do. 😉

  4. My 3 kids are still in elementary school, with the youngest just starting kindergarten, so back to school is just peachy with me! Get em out of the house? For six hours? Somewhere safe? With their friends and wonderful, kindly teachers who still give hugs? And I get to have time to myself?!!!??!!! I’ll take the tantrums at bedtime, the spilled juice inside the Mario Bros. lunch box, the never ending saga of “where are my shoes?” AND the yuck of the drop off/pick up lane because it is SO WORTH IT to get that time!

    1. I agree with you, Missy. Having the kids back is school is worth it in the long run. I just wish we didn’t have to go through these weird rituals at the beginning of each semester. It gets worse the older your kids get. Teachers at the high school level are sick of dealing with crazy parents, so they do their best to head them off at the start. The problem is, crazy parents remain crazy no matter what! (Especially when it comes to their kids.)

    1. Yeah, contracts with the teachers about what your kid will and will not do in class. We’ve come to that. As if it makes a difference when the parents think their kid can do no wrong. It reminds me of that greeting card that has a pair of clueless parents on the front with the dad on the phone saying, “Why no officer, my son is at the library studying!” Some people think their kids walk on water…when in reality mine are the only ones that really do! 😉

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