Monday , 18 June 2018

Eliska Counce: The Many Faces of the Back-to-School Parent

By Eliska Counce, TSB Columnist

Yep, it’s that time of year again, my fellow breeders: Back to School! Pardon me while I pause to do my Snoopy happy dance.

My last child starts kindergarten tomorrow. For the first time since 2003, I will not be paying a daycare. I’m giddy, but at the same time I can muster up a little nostalgia. But the whole back-to-school theme had me wondering what other parents were thinking and feeling about the end of summer vacation, so I posed the question online. This query prompted the emergence of a few and distinct types of back to school parents which I unveil for you now:

Cool Parent. This parent’s highest priority is her daughter’s wearing Laura Ashley with matching bows for all five days of the week. Appearance is important to Cool Parent. This parent is willing to dip into their 401K to purchase high end sneakers and ironic, miniature fedoras for their hipster kids to wear for the first day of class. This parent is also willing and ready to take a machete and a rhino gun into Kohl’s over tax-free weekend. They will cut you for that reduced-price pair of baby Timberlands. They’ve got a cold glint in their eye and disposable income. Their kids are wearing Ralph Lauren on their backs and an attitude to match. Related and by the way: sending your white kid to school in a Fubu T-shirt? Just…don’t.

Whiny Parent. Oh, you know him. He’s up and complaining about carpool procedure at the parent assembly. This parent waxes on and on about lousy teachers, how their gifted children can’t get into the gifted program, and the fat content of the cafeteria lunches. This parent has favorite teachers and high classroom standards…and God help us all if their child doesn’t get them. Beware this parent. He or she is not for the feint of heart. They’ll see your difficult meeting with your boss and raise you: at least your job isn’t 24-7! Having trouble staying awake at your desk? You don’t know tired if you aren’t a parent! And so on. Bam: you’ve just been mommyjacked.

Sanctimommy. Know what happens when you wax rhapsodic online about how thrilled you are your kids are going back to school? This parent rears her head to scold you about how you despise motherhood, how you don’t appreciate being a parent, and to question why you had children if you hate them so much. Oh, yeah? My eloquent response: Bite me. I’ve been with these ingrates for 90 days. There’s nothing wrong with feeling some relief at their returning to school. It doesn’t mean I want to drop them at the nearest fire station. It doesn’t mean I don’t, either. But I digress. Just because I appreciate a break doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate my kid.

The Hoveround. The parent who labels pens, pencils, and supplies individually and places them into a monogrammed backpack. The parent who won’t allow their child to finish a sentence. The parent who runs up on the playground to make sure the other kids are including theirs. The parent of the child who’s been groomed to play a sport since conception. God help you if you correct the child of the Hoveround in his or her presence. The teacher of the Hoveround kid will have a parent conference scheduled by the end of the first week of school. The Hoveround motto: My Worry Makes it Better.

Guilty Parent. We barely hobble through the summer. Our kids watch more TV, play more video games, and eat more crappy food than we’re ever gonna admit aloud. We’re too poor for enrichment camps, so summer continuing education rotates largely around how to best get stains out of carpets and pee into the toilet instead of sprinkled all around it. We should so be enjoying our little angels more, we tell ourselves. We should want to homeschool! But the sad fact is: we largely enjoy subletting out the education process to the public schools. But we are bad, bad, bad. Because we’re super glad summer vacation is over and would rather eat a broken glass po’ boy than teach our children at home ourselves.

Topper Parent. The mompetitor, prevalent on Facebook, has a kid (with all due respect to Dana Carvey) who’s just a leeetle bit superior to yours. You took your kid to the beach? They went swimming with dolphins in Hawaii and found gold coins from a sunken pirate ship on the sea floor. You put your kid in the community center’s science camp? Their kid studied with Russian scientists at a Washington DC school for upcoming diplomats. Surely it can’t all be true, but Topper Parent wants you to know their kid learned Mandarin Chinese this summer. Her dialect is, naturally, perfect. And she reads on a 10th-grade level at age six. Yes, I get it.

I might just see a little of myself in all of these types of back-to-school parents. Whatever parent you are, happy back-to-school season. Whatever your style, we’re in this boat together. Excited or relieved, the time has come for some book-learning, as we say here in the South. Here’s hoping the year is a successful one for you and your student.  As for me, I will send mine off without tears and monogrammed pencils. But with lots of love…and maybe even a little note with lunch.

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