Once upon a time, I was a young mother bringing her eldest child to kindergarten, trying to find my feet underneath me in the chaos that was school life. Now that I’ve been doing this for awhile, I’ve got a few tips I wished someone would have told me. So—Merry Christmas to you—I present a simple guide to surviving your kid’s school years.
Get Used to Fundraisers
The quicker you can cycle through the emotions of naïve excitement, wary reluctance, resentful bitterness, and defeated acceptance, the better. Get that emotional roller coaster behind you and move on with your life. Fundraisers, like death and taxes, are just one of the unfortunate requirements of life during the school years. Commiserate with your school mom friends by playing school-fundraiser-bingo!
Buy an Electric Pencil Sharpener
Listen, your kid is going to bring home a lot of homework. I mean, a lot. You’re going to be too busy wringing your hands over the over-homeworking of your kid to sharpen pencils. And let’s be honest here, those little manual pencil sharpeners? They’re awful. They always snap the tip of the lead off right when you think you’re done, and then you have to start all over while resisting the urge the hulk it at the wall. So do yourself a favor and just slap a cheap electric pencil sharpener on your school year. You’ll thank me later.
Beware of the Sudden Drama-Llama
Like a cat on the prowl, the drama llama blends into her surroundings at first, appearing innocuous and approachable. But don’t be fooled: the drama llama is only waiting and watching. When the opportunity presents itself (particularly at PAC/PTO/PTA meetings), she will strike with the quickness and venom of a cobra, arguing about anything from the wording on the fundraising parent letter, to the games and decorations selected for the class party, to the qualifications of the new custodian. The deadliest drama llamas masterfully use techniques to divide the parent body, pitting moms against each other. They feed off petty conflict, which is their means of survival. Should you encounter a drama llama in the wild, do not engage. I repeat, do not engage. When the drama llama can’t instigate conflict, she will move on to easier prey.
Get on Friendly Terms with the Teacher
To be clear, the vast majority of my kid’s teachers have been awesome and sweet. But occasionally personalities collide, or you don’t agree with her approach. Unless there is mistreatment or dereliction of duty going on, you need to dig down deep in the cockles of your heart to find some patience and grace. Don’t tick off your kid’s teacher, because it’s your kid who has to deal with her all day long. Plus, the teacher is going to be less sympathetic to your pleas for help if you’re bucking right out of the gate. So put on your big girl panties and play nice.
Sending your kid to school is a long tradition that generations of moms have endured. Whatever grief you might be going through, know that there have been multitudes of moms who have suffered it, too. So call a friend, get on a parenting forum, or heck, just post about it on Facebook to find someone who’s gone through it, too, who can offer you a bit of sympathy and guidance. And when all else fails, find the humor in the absurdity of it all. Because even though you can’t have the last word, you can at least have the last laugh.
What are your best tips to surviving the school years?