Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Back to School version)

It's that time of year again. The time of year when other parents lament missing their little darlings being around 24/7 and when I glance at my watch and say, "Oh s#*$! Is school over already today?" Yes, I would do cartwheels to celebrate the start of school but I'd probably throw my back out and then I wouldn't be comfortable lounging around on the couch eating bonbons and we can't have that. ::snort:: Seriously, I don't understand the bittersweet sadness so many people feel this time of year (nor the apathy that my kids feel). I used to love going back to school. I loved new school supplies. I loved the reading lists. I loved the time with friends. I loved everything about school. OK, maybe not gym class. And definitely not gym uniforms. And math was not high on my list either. But in the grand scheme of things, I was always excited to go back to school. So it follows that I'm excited for my kids to go back to school too.

They've spent the summer beings mostly being slugs. We saw W. (a rising junior) in actual daylight yesterday for the first time in what feels like months and were just relieved to note that he has not, despite rumors to the contrary, been turned into a vampire. R. (a rising sophomore) emerged from her room in back to school clothing that is three inches too short (both tops and bottoms) and told me with an evil grin that she wants to go to the mall, her happy place and my seventh circle of hell. I think she chose her clothing intentionally since I haven't taken her to the mall once all summer long. And T. (a rising sixth grader) seems to have moved permanently onto the couch in his jammies and a snuggie. So you can see how starting school again could interrupt their long cherished summer traditions of being anti-social to family and hiding out in their rooms. But I refuse to let their ennui dampen my enthusiasm!

From www.caglecartoons.com
So I went onto the school website and looked at each teacher's supply lists. (We don't actually get official supply lists until the first day of classes so that everyone in the district, all 132,000 families, can descend on every office supply store in a 100 miles radius on the same night. Because who doesn't want to fight your neighbor over the last pack of college ruled paper in a tri-state area? Good times.) Many teachers don't have a list up (or it's last year's list so it can't be 100% trusted) but I lucked out and R.'s English teacher has a whole prospectus up on her website. Now I don't know if it this year's or not but I read it through anyway. Goals: blah, blah, blah. Grading: blah, blah, blah. Class rules: blah, blah, blah. Etc. And then I came to the course texts and required novels. Be still my beating heart! I called R. down to show her and to gush about the books. She was unimpressed and even dismissed some of the books, either because she's already read them or because I said they were good and she thinks my taste in books is egregious. I swear she's not my kid. ::sigh:: So here's the list:

o Night by Elie Wiesel
o The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
o Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
o Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
o A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
o Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
o Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
o Othello by William Shakespeare (provided by school)
o One choice novel – list will be provided 4th Quarter

The only thing disappointing to me about this list is that I've read all but one of the books (pending her choice of novel at the end). The good news though, is that I own the one I haven't read and I immediately plucked it off the shelf and started reading it. And it's funny. Which means my kid will hate it. Because she hates all the books I recommend for her. Because she's a teenager. In any case, I should probably also dig out my notes from when I used to teach Othello myself. Or maybe not. Because she's going to hate that one too. And me if I try to help her.

So I'll just wallow in the happiness of evicting my children from their rooms and my couches. And eagerly await the reading lists for W. and T. (nothing listed on the internet yet) because nothing beats the joy of reading lists and the smell of new office supplies. Back to school time rocks! For me anyway and parents who think otherwise are drips. ;-)


  1. Tell Reid I HATED _The Kite Runner_; maybe that will make her more likely to enjoy it. _Like Water For Chocolate_ made me hungry, and the movie was fun. I haven't read _Things Fall Apart_ yet because the themes make me think I'll enjoy it more when I'm older, which makes me wonder why it's showing up on a high school list.

    Our schools don't do as much group reading, which I think I like. We all hate school because it starts so early and it cuts into our reading time.

  2. I have a different perspective on this time of year as a teacher who doesn't have any children of her own! I do love the excitement of the start of the new year though, when everyone is fresh and keen.

  3. I remember those days well! And yes, I too was always excited to go back to school. It was a change from the ho-hum boredom of August and a time to *read more books*! Now I have little grandkids going back to school (though in a far away state, unfortunately for me) and hear my daughter-- who was known for flying out the door at the last second in high school, clutching an open backpack and a banana, grumbling about her younger siblings hogging the bathroom upstairs--complain that her kids are so slow in the mornings! Good times, good memories...

  4. I actually am with you ... I used to like going back to school. I didn't like the social aspect all the time, but I loved the academic aspect, even the math and gym! Still to this day, I enjoy shopping for school/office supplies and love reading lists. My kids are not even old enough for official reading lists, but I cannot wait for those days to share in the stories with them. BUT, they will probably hate them too as a teenager. Maybe if we pretend we don't like them, they will. You know, a little reverse psychology?!?


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