It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year




Back in 1996 when this commercial was first released, my oldest kid was 2 and I thought it was humorous- in an abstract sort of way. Now I get it. I really get it.Back_to_School_Funny_Staples_Commercial

This morning I sent 3 kids off to their first day of the new school year. Sydney is still asleep, as her classes don’t start until the 17th. I’m sitting here in the blissful quiet drinking coffee.

Nathan decided that, rather than catching the 645AM bus, he will ride his bike to school every day. This should prove interesting considering his antipathy towards the use of a locker. Last year I nearly threw out my back trying to move his backpack 5 ft. (Speaking of, my lower back went out yesterday, so this entire blog is being written under the influence of muscle relaxers. Please keep that in mind) Nathan is also playing tennis again this year, so in addition to the backpack filled with 100lbs of books, he will also have his tennis bag strapped to his back. We shall see how this little experiment plays out. Oh, and did I mention it was raining this morning?

I didn’t get a back-to-school picture of Nathan again this year. I must admit, it’s been a while. I think the last one was his second day of 8th grade. I didn’t wake up on time on his first day of 8th grade, so I made him stand and pretend it was his first day. I set my alarm for 7 to make sure he was up, but that was the extent of what I was capable this morning. Maybe I’ll get a “2nd day of Sophomore year” pic tomorrow. Probably not.

I did, after coercion and threats, get Zoe and Parker to stand for their first day of school picture this morning. Zoe acted like she had no idea where to stand, even though this is her fifth year standing in the same spot on the porch for the traditional first day picture. Parker refused to look directly at me, and made a grimacing face in every shot. I finally got this picture before declaring “Never mind!”

imageNotice Parker’s shirt is about a foot too long.

I tried to talk Parker into tucking in his shirt, but he told me it would look lame. Zoe’s shoes are too big, but she insisted on wearing them anyways. I honestly didn’t care. I have searing pain in my lower back every time I move up or down, so frankly, they could have gone to school in burlap sacks as far as I’m concerned.

I used to try a little harder. Look at this picture of Sydney from the second grade:


Her outfit is coordinated, she has a matching bow in her hair… if you look closely you’ll see that I even tied a ribbon around her skirt that matches her hair bow. That was about 12 years ago. 12 first days of school ago.

My first day of school was in 1977. Somehow I still remember it. We lived in Huntington Beach and I had a brand new denim dress with spaghetti straps and a yellow shirt. I loved my outfit. Most of all, I loved my saddle shoes.

image you can’t see the saddle shoes in this pic, but trust me- I was wearing them.

I loved those saddle shoes so much, that I insisted that both of my girls wear saddle shoes for their first days of school.

imageSydney, first day of preschool.

image Zoe, first day of pre-K.

My boys, well, I have to admit I haven’t tried quite as hard with them.

image Nathan, first day of preschool

image Parker, first day of kindergarten

(Also, Zoe first day of 2nd grade. She picked this outfit, and I always felt it had a certain “After school I’m heading to the club” vibe.)

image No idea what he wore that year, thanks to a complete lack of cooperation.

My mother has all my old first day of school pictures somewhere. Some are probably fine. Most are probably horribly embarrassing.

I do know there’s no first day of school picture from my 2nd grade year. That’s because I missed the first day of 2nd grade. I believe I had the stomach flu. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to show up to a brand new school on the SECOND day of school? It threw my whole year off. I never quite recovered.

Other than that year, I always loved the first day of school. I’d sharpen my pencils, put paper in my Trapper Keeper (Lisa Frank, of course)


And my outliner pens-


I’d lay my first day of school outfit on the end of my bed. Maybe it was my Gloria Vanderbilt jeans…

fa1393 Mine had blue sparkles and a swan on the pocket

or Jordache…

jeans 3

Or maybe my lavender A. Smile Gelato overalls.

a smile

The coolest clothes couldn’t help me on the first day of 8th grade, however. A week before starting 8th grade, I got braces. The day before the first day of 8th grade, I went in to my local salon with a photo of a hairstyle that I wanted.

It was probably something like this:


What I got was more like this:

2473010826_bf9145a132 Disclaimer- NOT ME. However, similar look.

I went for a sophisticated loose curl bob. I ended up looking like a poodle.

I ran home from the salon crying and immediately washed my hair. For anyone who has ever gotten a perm, you know that this does NOT help a bad perm. It makes it worse. Junior High is hard enough without adding braces and a permed mullet.

I learned that year never to make a change the day before school starts.


Last night I was in Parker’s room putting away his clothes when Zoe came in, in full-blown hysteria.



“Can you homeschool me? You’re smart enough.”

I stared at her for a minute and said, “No. What’s the issue, Zoe?”

She was sniffling and whimpering and said, “I have THREE things to do, and I’m never gonna get them done before school.”

I asked her what she had to do. She said, “Well you said I have to put my clothes away. And it’s gonna take forever.”

“Yes. I asked you three times yesterday and twice today.”

“And I still have to finish decorating my binder.”


“And I’m supposed to put 3 things in a bag that represent me, and I don’t even know myself.”

I guess that could be a problem.

I went back in my room and Jeff asked what all the drama was about. I responded, “You don’t want to know. Ignorance is bliss.”

He asked me if I had made their lunches. I said, “Why would I do that? Parker has two brand new lunch boxes, but I will bet you money he chooses to get hot lunch. It’s chicken nuggets.”

Who knows their kid? This lady.

After I got the kids to bed, I pulled out the paperwork that was sitting on Parker’s desk at the teacher meet and greet.

( Side story-when we went to the teacher meet and greet yesterday, in Parker’s classroom a boy was standing with his mother, brother and older sister. The boy says, “Look mom! Parker’s in my class!” I said, “Parker, do you know (quick glance at the name tag on his desk) Mark here?” Parker stared and said, “I don’t know him .” I said, “Sure you do! Mark. He knows you’re Parker. You must know him.” Parker- “I’ve never seen him before in my life.” I mumbled something like, “He has a bad memory.” Man, did it get hot in that room.)

First in the packet I brought home was a “getting to know your child” form.

Every year I despise filling out this form.

1.”Please tell me what you think your child needs to work on this year.”

The conundrum: do I lay it all out at the beginning, or let her figure it out for herself? She says she wants to know, but maybe it will bias her against him.

I decide to go with vague euphemisms:

“Parker could work on respecting others’ personal space.”

“Parker may need help staying on task.”

“Parker benefits from structure with positive encouragement.”

2. “What are your child’s talents?”

Um. Well, does memorizing entire episodes of his favorite cartoons count? How about endless amounts of tracing, coloring and cutting out Scooby Doo villains?

3. “Anything else I need to know about your child?”

Good luck, lady. Hope you have a sense of humor and a lot of patience.

I didn’t write that. I think I left it blank. She’ll find out soon enough.

Grandma Toni showed up this morning to walk the kids to school. As I tried to wrangle them into position for their picture, Parker said to me, “Why are you coming? We don’t need you to walk us. We have Grandma.”

Zoe said, “Yeah. You have a sore back. You should stay here.”

I ignored them.

When we got to the school, crowded with parents taking pictures, kids in new outfits and teachers who seemed well-rested and enthusiastic, my kids immediately ditched me.

I suppose I should be grateful that I have raised children who are independent. Ones who don’t cry and cling as I try to walk away. They could at least PRETEND they are a little melancholy about leaving me. I pretend I’m sad they’re going.


Oh, and good news- hottie dad’s son is in Zoe’s class. For those who don’t know, hottie dad is a cute young dad whose daughter Parker bit when they were in the same kindergarten class. Twice. He likes to volunteer a lot out of guilt (recent ugly divorce). It’s always nice to have eye candy on field trips.

Don’t confuse hottie dad with hottie RUNNING dad. Hottie running dad is the size of Sydney, but a friend thinks he’s cute, so we had to differentiate. He is always running, so thus the title. Hottie running dad spends a suspicious amount of time talking to “buns of steel” mom, but I don’t want to start any gossip, so I’ll leave it at that.

I think it’s going to be a good year. It was a chaotic, NOT restful summer, so this back-to-school things feels like the onset of a vacation to me. Cheers to all you moms out there celebrating the silence just like me today. You’ve earned it.













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