Welcome back, kids.
Now grab a pencil and piece of a paper. We’re going to begin the 2013 school year with a pop quiz.
Today, the children, teachers, staff and administrators of the Manteca Unified School District returned to the classroom, breathing life back into their sleeping campuses.
Question: Who’s more excited for the start of the academic year?
A.) The kids, with their snappy, new school clothes, matching backpack/lunch bag sets, and tales of summer adventure.
B.) The teachers, who have spent weeks – maybe months – mining Pinterest and scouring Staples for classroom decorations and materials.
C.) The parents.
The answer lies not in the energy in the classroom or laughter on the playground, but in the cloud of dust and skid marks leaving the school parking lot. Those belong to Mom and Dad, who, truth be told, have longed for this day for weeks now.
Summer was great. The camping trips and beach days. The play dates and swim meets. But as the days and weeks stretched into months, there are those Moms and Dads that longed for a morning of solitude, a TV and coffee to themselves, or a long worry-free soak.
This is a “Back To School” piece with a new perspective. This isn’t about the kids or the teachers or the new programs taking shape on campus. This is about the overwhelmed stay-at-home mom and do-it-all dad, the endless mounds of laundry and the dizzying pace of a long summer day.
I recently chatted with four moms who have multiple children attending public and charter schools in Manteca this fall, offering them anonymity for their raw and uncut take on the first day of school.
While Facebook and social media websites have begun to see an influx of posts and pictures by teary-eyed parents sending their kids off to school, these four are ready to celebrate at least five hours of freedom.
Their words were both enlightening and entertaining, and I’m willing to bet my lunch money, mostly true of Moms and Dads with multiple children.
Here are the highlights of our chat:
HEIDI: “So, for me, I’m looking forward to some quiet time. Uninterrupted showers, ‘quick’ grocery shopping trips, and some gym time. Having kids at home all summer is nice at first. No homework, sleeping in, late-night movie dates, then the novelty of it wears off and the kids fight and cry and complain and then I’m over it. If you’re bored, you can clean.”
ME: “Give me more. Give me more. We want more.”
KENDRA: “I agree with Heidi. At first, it’s nice. Then it just becomes WAY more work. Always having to entertain the kids. Can’t watch your recorded shows because it’s not appropriate for the kids. Always having to pick up after them. Listening to them whining and complaining about being bored or so-and-so did this. Your summer becomes filled with play dates or sports, leaving no time to do the things you want to do, all kid-free ... Your days fly by and you wonder what exactly you did throughout the day – and then you remember you forgot to pull something out for dinner ... At some point during the summer, you hear what a horrible parent you are.”
ME: “Yes, yes. I’m listening.”
JANELLE: “I have really enjoyed the whole summer off with them. ... We did a lot of fun trips too to fill our days we did have together. The summer really flew by fast to me. But this last week or two I have found myself ready for school to start. I look forward to getting back in a routine. ... The structure will be nice for the whole family.”
KENDRA: “That was sweet, Janelle. ... For me, the thing I hate doing the most is cleaning or picking up their rooms. Legos everywhere. Dirty clothes everywhere. And Pokemon cards everywhere.”
HEIDI: “Yes! Cleaning with three kids is like brushing your teeth and eating Oreos at the same time ... POINTLESS! Laundry is the No. 1 enemy in my house. Don’t mind doing it, but I find the kids putting clean clothes back into the dirties literally still folded. Then they change 25 times a day. Man. School is looking better and better. Maybe I’ll send them now.”
DIANE: “Most of what I look forward to is the quiet that will flow through the home. … I also look forward to being able to just jump in the car at the very thought of needing to run to the store versus having to drag the kids with me and endure the Star Wars battles throughout the grocery store and the stares from the others because I’m ‘that mom.’ I look forward to only having to prepare two meals a day – selfish, I know. I look forward to taking a phone call and not getting interrupted midway to break a Minecraft spat. Although I’m dreading homework and morning routines, I’m also looking forward to it as it brings on the fall, which happens to be my favorite season.”
Yes, school’s back in session, and if you’re looking for Mom and Dad ...
For some, the still of a school-day morning is their summer vacation.