First days

First days


It is here.

The first day of school.

If you live in the Midwest, the first day of school happened already, seems like weeks ago, but for those of us who live in this area, this was the week. The week when the buses drive extra slow to avoid those crazy moms with the baseball caps chasing after them with their already traumatized children. “But, mom, I only have three more pages of summer reading!” “No, you had the whole summer to do it and you are getting on that bus because mommy has been waiting for this day for two months!!!!!” “But mommy, you forgot my snack!” “Just take one from that kid whose mom always packs way too many snacks for him. He will never notice.” Poor kid, we know what kind of year that one is going to have…

But it seems that the school year really starts when the school supply list comes out. Three thousand sharpened pencils. Twenty single subject notebooks in non-offensive colors of the rainbow. Folders that have two holes. Folders that have three holes. Folders that don’t have any holes, but can hold paper with holes. You would think that for the amount of money we pay for tuition, school supplies should be included. Wouldn’t that be nice? Not a chance. Perhaps I should start a revolution. Yes, I think that would be a great idea…

And then, the other day that can be counted as when school really starts is when the class list comes out. Why do they do that? Is there a very drunk person on the committee who, in a scotch stupor, said, “Hey, I have a great idea. Let’s send the class list out on Shabbos, in a sealed envelope. That way no one can open it and maybe, maybe they will forget to open it for a few days!”

Hope that guy has stopped drinking. Those days were the worst, because the envelopes managed to open for some kids, but not for all kids. It was never a good ending. And yet, they continue to do it. JUST WAIT UNTIL THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!! They wonder why anxiety levels are so high in school-age children. It comes from the high level of anxiety in school-aged children’s parents!

They didn’t have stuff like this when I was in school and most of my classmates turned out OK! The highlight of the pre-first day of school back then was putting covers on all of my school textbooks while watching the U.S. Open. Do our kids do that anymore? Ugg, I hope not, or I am a really crappy parent who hasn’t noticed this over the past two decades.

And what about the letter that comes with your child’s bus stop? That is another doozy. The school that my kids went to really has taken off since son#1 started there, on its very first day, way back in 2001. Now there are 50 kids at the bus stop. It is delightful. They wait on the corner, near the corner, down the block, hoping to make it to the corner. Of course most of these kids don’t live near the stop, but that is OK. Unless it rains. Or snows. Or looks like it might rain or snow and then you have the minivan chain gang that lines up on main streets and side streets for as far as the eye can see. Because all of these children melt in inclement weather. Something about the flavor of the uniforms. And we know how well moms in minivans know how to drive. (Oops. Probably shouldn’t have made that comment after the summer that I have had — but still true and reasonably humorous).

But seriously, the first day of school is a big deal. It is a chance to start fresh, which can mean something good, like turning over a new leaf and using your notebooks for notes and not just doodles. Or it could be a new start to pick a teacher to torture. (Not naming names, nor do I know anyone who has ever done anything like this. And if he/she has, he/she hopes those teachers are not reading this because they for sure know who they are.)

I wish all of our perfect children — because they are all perfect — a year filled with good grades, good friends, good values, and good snacks. Because, after all, snacks are the most important meal of the day.

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck still has two kids who had a first day of school. The other one is in Israel somewhere learning for his mother’s soul to be saved…. Good luck, kid.

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