In the last 7 days I’ve been to two Back to School Nights, one for my sixth grader, one for my high school sophomore. (A moment to mourn my youth…and, ok, moving on…) Both were well worth my time, to be sure, as I care deeply about my children and their academic lives.
But, as a working parent, I still have a love/hate relationship with this school institution.
5 Things I Love About Back To School Night:
- I love to meet the teachers. Showing up shows them I care and gives me a mental picture to draw on as I talk to my kids about their days for the rest of the school year.
- There’s something so satisfying to my inner 8-year-old to sit at a school desk looking attentive.
- That inner 8-year-old is such a Teacher’s Pet by nature that it’s all I can do not to randomly raise my hand, saying “pick me! pick me!” Mostly I’m successful at quashing this impulse, but it’s there.
- I love going to BTSN with my daughter’s dad. We’ve been divorced for 10 years but remain good friends. We enjoy reverting to our junior high school days (when we met), sniggering every once in a while at some of the nuttier parents. (Last night’s highlight: a guy who asked the teacher questions the entire time, never even letting her get in her own spiel. The nerve!)
- It’s a good chance to sneak a peek at my kid’s desks to make sure they’re using all the school supplies we’ve purchased for them.
5 Things I Hate About Back To School Night:
- The hectic schedule for the evening: getting home from a full day of work, getting kids home, getting them started on homework and dinner, getting myself fed and freshened up, all before heading back out the door. Good pre-planning is key here: I make sure to have a make-ahead dinner done and ready for quick reheating and assembling.
- Figuring out what to do with the kids while we’re at Back to School Night, since they’re not invited. This always creates a quandry. Do we hire a babysitter? Should one of us stay home? Should they stay on their own now that they’re old enough? This isn’t an issue for us anymore, but, for years, it was a biggie.
- Parents who use BTSN as conference time with the teachers. I always feel bad when the teacher gets cornered by one of these inconsiderate parents and has to gracefully bow out.
- Parents who disobey the “no kids” rule. I know that it’s tough to figure out what to do with the kids, but, try, would you? Few things are more distracting than crying toddlers while the teacher’s trying to talk.
- Teachers who are not prepared for the talk they have to give to parents. This happens rarely, but when the teacher isn’t prepared, it’s just painful to watch them try to fill the time allotted. When they end too quickly and there are no questions from the parents with ten minutes left, a heavy silence falls over the room. Awkward!
This year, though, I tried to relish every moment of each Back to School Night. As the kids get older, time goes by faster. I realized suddenly last night that I only have two more of these evenings left to celebrate my daughter’s school life. Then, she’ll be off to college and I’ll be missing this annual event dearly.