Well here is the obligatory back to school picture post! I can’t believe it, this is the year that all the ducklings are all in school. My baby Brooks is no longer a baby, he’s a big boy kindergartener! It is bittersweet. (Long sad sigh) …. (Cue dance music and begin to party!!)
So here’s this years line up: Caitlyn 9th grade, Beau 7th Grade, Braden 6th grade.
Bennett 3rd grade, and Brooks kindergarten.
It’s not just a new school year, it’s an entirely new school. So of course we all had our concerns. New school (literally just built), new system, new friends, new uniforms, new bus, new new new… I will admit it, I was on the brink of a melt down pretty much everyday the week leading up to the first day. But I will get into that in a bit. Let’s first admire how cute my kids are.
I want to give a big shout out to my husband for emailing the transportation department and arranging to have a bus stop right in front of our house! Whooo hooo! Since it was the first day of school, just the older kids took the bus. I drove Brooks to school because I wanted to walk him in. Getting to the school was pure insanity. There is quite a bit of construction going on at and around the school. So it took me nearly 45 minutes to get into the parking lot. I sat at the stop light waiting to turn left for over 20 minutes. But I don’t regret it because Brooks needed me. And I’m so grateful to be able to be there for events like this. He gets pretty nervous about new things.
He was so nervous when we walked into his classroom, I had a hard time getting him to let go of my hand. We found his seat, put his back pack and lunch away, and then I walked him to the area where his class was quietly sitting while his teacher read a story. (We obviously were late.) As I sat him down I let him know I was leaving, that’s when he almost lost it. He looked up at me with teary eyes and asked “But wait, are you leaving”. I had to say yes and leave him there. It was so sad. I almost cried. I was so worried about him all day long. And this isn’t just a case of him being the baby of the family. He really has a hard time adjusting to new things, he comes by it naturally.
The first day of school the kids missed the bus home, I let them know this morning that if they weren’t all together, then don’t get on the bus. And I’m glad I did. Bennett found Brooks at the end of the day crying. I think he was probably thinking in his little mind that he was on his own. The three older kids waited in the bus line and couldn’t find the younger two, so Caitlyn took charge. She told her other brothers to stay put and walked over to the elementary campus to find the littles. It was hot and dusty from all the construction. About the time she found them, the bus was leaving. I have to imagine a lot of elementary school kids missed the bus. It was pretty hectic.
The second day of school was just as hectic for me as the first. This time Brooks rode the bus. Bennett walked him to the gym where are the kindergarteners and first graders meet. About an hour after school had started I got a call from the school nurse. Bennett was in the office experiencing severe chest pain. He wanted to be picked up from school. This isn’t something that has happened before, so I was pretty concerned. But as a mother, my instinct told me something else was probably going on. My first thought was, “oh no, he probably got picked on“. He’s my sweet, kind, and sensitive kid. When I got to the school, I could see that he had been in tears for some time. He explained his chest was still hurting. I asked him some routine mom questions to see what was going on. Well, he was having an anxiety attack. It was heart breaking. He said when he walked to his class line after he had taken Brooks to the gym door, he saw Brooks run out crying, panicking and looking for him. He didn’t know what to do, so he went to class. He couldn’t get over it. He felt saddened and guilty. We talked about what he could do in the future; talk to a teacher, or ask if he can offer reassurance to Brooks. I was already on my way home with him and I saw in my rear view mirror that he was getting teary eyed again. I asked him if we should go back to the school to check on Brooks. That way Bennett could see that Brooks is ok. He said he wanted to do that. I also felt that if he did see him, he’d feel good enough to finish the day. When we got Brooks out of class, he was so happy to see us. We walked Brooks back to class, and Brooks started to cry, then Bennett started to cry, then I almost started to cry. It was rough, for all of us. Man, motherhood can be so hard sometimes! But I hugged them both and reminded them that school is fun. It was hard to walk away. My shy boys need school. I am glad that Bennett was able to gain his composure and resume his school day.
And happy to report everyone made it home on the bus the rest of the week.
Alright, Let’s talk about the real back to school madness.
School supply list. It’s out of control. Each year the lists seem to grow, teachers have their particular ways of managing and organizing. I spent about $300 on school supplies for my kids this year. And we do as much recycling as possible. I am seriously at my wits end with these outrageous lists. I would like to think I had a pretty good education, and having discussed this same topic with friends, we all agree that this list of items is not actually making our kids smarter. Let me just give you an idea of what was requested this year. For my oldest two children, one middle school and one high school, we needed 4 different color spiral notebooks. Red, Blue, Yellow, and Green. And they each needed four of them… That’s 32 entirely new notebooks, for only two kids.
So I want you to take a close look at this pile of chaos. Those are old notebooks, composition books, binders and folders. Many of them still in usable condition. Some of them not, BUT with paper to spare. Along with the requests of certain color note books are requests for certain color folders, with certain types dividers and so on. I mean really, is this helping my children learn? Or is this helping the teachers keep their sanity? I realize teachers do a tremendous amount of work with our kids, but there is a lesson being taught in all this organization. And it’s not a good one. The lesson is waste. Many of the notebooks I went through from last school year have but one or two sentence’s per page, then the notebook itself is about 1/3-3/4 full. I am appalled. Why is it that we are not teaching our children to organize their thoughts and notes without being so wasteful? What is the problem with simply drawing a line across the bottom of yesterdays notes and starting todays notes below? Why can’t we just take a sharpie marker and write MATH on a notebook and use it all year long. Do the children really need four Math notebooks in the color red? Is that making them smarter?? I do not believe it is. These are OCD requests. I get it, I have my fair share of OCD, but this is not right. Riddle me this: some schools have little blue trash cans specific to recycling, yet the bigger waste is in everyday note taking…. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT?! Do any of you remember just taking one notebook and a few pencils to school? Do you remember being able to pick out one or two cool folders? How about Lisa Frank or trapper keepers?
Another major problem with all these supplies is the weight! I swear, we are creating back and neck problems for our future generations. My kids often complain about how heavy their bags are. I feel so bad for them, because there isn’t anything I can do to help them.
I would really love to hear your opinions on this waste, and ways we can bring this to the attention of the school systems. This supply topic, as miniscule as it may seem, truly weighs heavy on my heart. I have elected to do better about teaching my children to not be wasteful. I have started to un-spiral these left over notebooks and tear off the messy ends. I am saving the good paper and piling them into “college ruled” and “wide ruled”. So the next time they ask for a pack of either, I will be sending it to school in a previously used and newly washed zip lock bag. And folks, this isn’t just about affordability, its about mother earth. We can’t just continue to live like a bunch of takers now can we…
Now, to get off my soap box. Here is a picture of the kindergarten aftermath. He fell right to sleep in the car after the first day of school when I had to go pick them up. Poor sweet Gus.