For a long time, this Staples TV ad was my favorite commercial:
I still think it’s hilarious, but since my kids don’t technically go “back to school” anymore, I don’t get the same pleasure out of it. I have to say that this is one of the few times during the school year in which I am actually jealous of those families whose kids physically attend school.
In my suburban neighborhood, the first day of school is an unofficial holiday. Moms and Dads all gather at the bus stop in the morning and afternoon with cameras to record the day. A moms-without-kids lunch date happens at a local restaurant. Everyone excitedly talks about their lists of things to accomplish while the children are in school.
Not so for us homeschool parents. My kids are still here, just like every other day. I suppose I could join the other moms out at the bus stop to chat, but that would seem sort of silly. I doubt anyone would mind if I attended the lunch date, but I wouldn’t have much to contribute to conversations about this new teacher or that dress code policy or the job of Room Mom. I can’t join in the excitement about JV football or marching band. And my list of things to accomplish during the day might include some ambitious projects, but those will certainly be interrupted by calls for help with some research or a quick read of an essay rough draft. Inevitably, this will occur just as soon as I get the roller loaded with paint or as I’m about to put my ear buds on and head out the door for a walk.
Don’t get me wrong. Of course there are benefits to homeschooling which emerge at this time of year. We don’t have to worry about sleeping through the alarm and missing the bus. No one forgets his lunch or permission slip. And one of my personal favorites, I don’t have to participate in the total scam of shopping for the particular supplies required for each grade, homeroom, or class. I leave it up to my own kids to pick their favorite type and color of pen, choose spiral notebooks over binders, and decide whether they will make index cards of vocabulary words or not. Plus, I only have to provide tissues and Lysol wipes for my own household, not an entire student body. Let’s not forget the relative ease of making dental, orthodontic, or other appointments when you don’t have to worry about your student missing a quiz while they were getting brackets adjusted or copying the notes they missed while they were getting their teeth cleaned.
OK, so the perks of homeschooling far outweigh the short-lived relief of the first day of school. However, I know I can’t possibly be alone among homeschooling moms when I wish that every once in a while, I could just put my kids on the school bus and wave after them. Maybe let them wander around the public high school to see what they are missing–or not. Maybe they would gain a little more appreciation for just how good they have it: going to the bathroom or getting a drink whenever they feel like it, not having to listen to a teacher drone on and on until everyone finally gets it, setting their own schedule and either living with the consequences of it or reaping its rewards.
“Most Wonderful Time of the Year”? Maybe not. Maybe just a bittersweet time. And a time to shine a spotlight on exactly how uncommon we are around here.