For the first week of the school year, I wrote the following article under an alias, which was published in the Community Connections, Monsey’s largest weekly.
The Battle of the Re-Used
Sept. 7 – 14, ‘06
My girls discovered an optimistic approach to dealing with the vacation-after-vacation period. They now go around all day playing day-camp and cheering “third half is here, hurray”. Well, reality is that school is starting in a few days and I have to prepare the briefcases, whether I’m geared up or not. B”H by some miracle all the uniforms fit from last year, check. The shoes we bought on sale before Tisha B’aav, check. Oy, supplies. How do people become so coordinated and run off to the super “back-to-school mega sales” in the middle of the summer heat and still have the energy to think of what they should purchase for school? How can they figure out how many packs of pencils or glue sticks will cover the first 6 weeks? These unanswered questions just rattle my brain.
I formulate a plan – process of elimination. First, let me see what we have, and then I’ll know what I need. Shoshi comes rolling into the kitchen with her luggage (oops, briefcase) and we start emptying the contents onto the kitchen table. Yum, a peach (or was it once a plum?), garbage. Taco chips, three water bottles, garbage. Gum… GUM!? Okay, the papers all go to the garbage and finally, I see the bottom of the luggage (oops, briefcase). Turns out that most of the supplies are available, neatly arranged in the faithful old pencil case and all we need is a sharpener. I emit a sigh of relief and move on to Malky’s knapsack. Out comes a sticker album, a stationary album, a Tiny Tots album… how educational. The pencil case contains an eraser collection and pencil stumps chewed to their backbones.
The battle of the re-used begins. I firmly believe that binders, folders and pencil cases should be re-used, until it disintegrates. The kids insist that the styles have changed and Hello Kitty is not ‘in’ anymore, it’s all about Strawberry Shortcake now. I offered to clean up all the “re-used” myself, without their help and I got myself a deal. I think I’m getting the hang of this; I may finish in time for Labor Day.
Registration cards – that’s one issue that befuddles me. My kids are so tense on the first day of school for only one reason. They don’t worry if all the good seats will be taken when they arrive and they don’t worry if the teacher will be strict on the first day. They only worry that they will Chas V’Sholom misplace their registration cards and suffer the consequences.
When my Rochel’la was in Pre-School, she sensed my anxiety when I told her not to lose the card. So just for the experiment, she ‘misplaced’ her card so she can investigate and learn what not to do next time. Dear mothers, please keep it cool and do not pass on your emotions to your children. Ultimately we hope they can enjoy their first day the way that it was intended, and actually absorb the power of the chinuch which we offer to them through the school system.