If you are anything like me, before school starts you probably sit down with your kids to review the basic expectations you have of them as they head off to school. You want to take a few minutes to review how to be a supportive, functioning child, after a summer spent throwing their friends in pools and slipping out of your slimy sun block covered hands, as you attempt to protect them from malignant melanomas and unsightly brown spots. You want to remind them of the things they learned as toddlers: when someone speaks to you, listen. When someone is mean or hits you, don’t just hit them back. When you don’t want to help clean up the mess at the end of class, clean up, it’s not optional, it’s required. If you have a friend who is having a bad day, be a shoulder to lean on.
Since we do this for our kids I thought I would review it for myself. This summer I have noticed that many of the friends I love have stresses of their own, and that the kids teachers have lives too. I was trying to think of ways I can be a productive and useful part of my community when school starts and came up with some ideas. Obvioulsy I am not God and I don’t know Moses, so these are suggestions and not commandments, but commandments had a more catchy ring to it.
Ten Back To School Commandments For Moms
- When you see a friend after the summer, and you notice she looks sad, or off, or sick, don’t turn to whoever is sitting next to you to wonder out loud if it’s her marriage, her health, her kids, or her ass. No, find her and gently ask how she is. Do so with intention, do so caring what her answer is. Trust me, it matters. Be a good friend.
- If you see a mom struggling to juggle school responsibilities, home responsibilities and who knows what else, don’t snigger inwardly that she can no longer coordinate her kids clothes or her own for that matter. Ask how you can help. Does she need someone to run the bake sale, grab her a coffee one morning on your way into school, run her kids home on a rough day. Yes, be nice.
- If your child is constantly being one upped, beaten by a few seconds in the mile, stuck in the jail in Dodge Ball (which by the way is called “The French and the English” in schools in England, how cute is that), remember, these are games. These are sports. These are young kids. Try not to give them chocolate covered coffee beans before physical education to enhance their performance. This may be how the kids get started on roids. It’s okay to come in second sometimes. Tell them to do their best and know that coming in first doesn’t make them a better human being. And then step back and tell yourself the same thing. There aren’t any points for baking the most cookies this year. It’s school. I don’t think any of us could make a solid argument that we need to up the intensity for ourselves or our kids.
- If your child comes home and tells you about the new girl who has the big house, and fancy clothes, and straight shiny hair, tell her it’s wonderful she has a new friend. Don’t ask how big the house is or what brand her fancy clothes are. When you meet the new mom, don’t assume because she is beautiful and well trotted out, that she is a snob or unworthy of your friendship. Think “how cool, a new friend.”
- School is competitive. Getting kids into high school, prep school and college is competitive. But try with all your might to resist the urge to have your child rank his or her peers so you can systematically wipe out the competition for your eight year old. Really, there is room for all of us. So when you see your friends, acquaintances and teachers remember, they aren’t competition, they are friends.
- When you are called into the disciplinarian’s office to discuss your child’s interpretation of nude works of art from the Louvre (or perhaps the internet), try not to defend every action you have ever made as a parent. This one is tough. But usually the teachers really want what is best for the kids. You aren’t being pimped by Marcia Clark. We all make mistakes. If we can learn to accept that sometimes, we the parents, have erred, it is that much easier to raise magnanimous children. We can’t be right all the time. That’s okay.
- When your oldest child comes home and tells you how his peer, the youngest of five, is allowed to play Insurgent on his 3DS Player or watch R movies, wait to pass judgement until your fourth child is seven, and you have seen the Mermaid sing the Snowman song two thousand times and you no longer care so much what they watch. Because you know, for the most part, they are learning right from wrong at the dinner table and not the television. And really, if you must pass judgement, do so in your head. It makes it much easier to backpedal when your kindergartener tells her class her favorite show is Grey’s Anatomy.
- The person who is late every single day, or the person who never remembers lunch, may also be the person who ends up calling you and taking your child for you when you are really sick with a stomach bug. Maybe you should just avoid judging the other parents altogether, it saves so much embarrassment when you realize, again, that you are not infallible.
- When your kids get head lice leave school immediately. Unfortunately you must do so with the infected kids. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars. Call the lice lady. This woman is trained in picking microscopic bug eggs out of the kids hair. And if you don’t get every single egg it all starts again in just a few short weeks. The lice fairy in Delaware is also a great therapist, probably due to all the bonding she does with hysterical mothers who have just had to delouse their whole house.
- As they said in kindergarten, play nice, be kind, help others and try to share.
I think it is going to be an amazing year. Assuming the polar vortex has reversed its course… Lance Hill? I am waiting for a confirmation on that!