2018-09-06 / Around Town


From ‘Boo-Hoo’ to ‘Woo-Hoo’
By Amy Martin

Remember the first time you dropped your child off at preschool or daycare? The tears, the separation anxiety, the soothing teacher that calmed even the most unsettled, not to mention what your child was going through.

Fast-forward many years, perhaps several more children, and the first day of school is met with a little less “boo-hoo” and a lot more “woo-hoo!” Perhaps a celebratory mimosa or a dribble of Wild Turkey in the coffee is in store.

No judgement here on how you choose to enjoy the moment, but let’s remember that for many of us, this day marks the first one in three months that we have gone to the bathroom without a little tribe of spectators and commentators.

As the school year begins, the overflow of genuine parental intentions hits a crescendo right around back-to-school night, as teachers give helpful tips on organization, study habits, preparedness, and more.

Amy Martin is an opinion columnist with a background in family chaos, laughter and a lot of laundry. She writes from a perspective of passion, reality and humor. Amy Martin is an opinion columnist with a background in family chaos, laughter and a lot of laundry. She writes from a perspective of passion, reality and humor. I am not impervious to this inspiration and set out to accomplish the recommended nightly goals: a regimen of 20-minutes of reading, 10-minutes of flash cards, tomorrow’s outfit laid out and bags packed before bed. I am happy to report that this dedication to the recommended evening practice lasts well into the second week of school. Then, it’s a free-for-all.

I was given a lovely piece of advice several years ago to put notes in my children’s lunch boxes. These heart-filled gestures started out with messages of encouragement (you can do anything you put your mind to), confidence (you are the best and only you) and love (I am the luckiest mom).

By January these messages changed to warnings (if you forgot your homework today do not even think of calling me to bring it), threats (if you do not bring this lunch box home tonight I will not feed you tomorrow) and cryptic instructions (remember you have soccer tonight, but you might not go). My children have asked me to stop putting messages in their lunch boxes.

During the first week of school, everyone is dressed and ready to walk out the door, 15 minutes before departure time. This excitement is the pep rally to the start of a hopeful season of accomplishing morning goals: being on time and distress-free.

Soon after, getting out the door in the mornings resembles a flailing football team where inspiration from the pep rally is a distant memory. By week two we are fumbling with the backpacks, forgetting our routes and completely dropping the ball.

In addition, the start of school is accompanied by an underlying memory, lingering in the back of my brain since June, that I cannot fully eradicate: school is the Petri dish of life.

Here we go, parents. It’s September, so line your children up if they do not have a contagious disease, so the school can distribute one to them. According to my high school biology teacher, the typical incubation period for a germ is approximately six weeks. This is why every child is vomiting, has strep throat, or hand, foot and mouth disease by the time Halloween rolls around.

Goodbye sweet summer of health. Until next year, I will sanitize the bejeezus out of my children and myself in the small hope that it makes some sort of an infectious difference.

We are parentally well intentioned in September to conquer formative matriculation, but alas, our momentum wanes. We must forgive our moments, or months, of fragility and keep our eyes on the prize, a retirement filled with fully employed adult children living independently of their parents.

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