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Challenge: Back to School 2021

Dear Co-Workers

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Dear Co-Workers

In a few days, my house will do its annual cartwheel as we shuffle our child back to school. And by shuffle, I mean we will be challenged with juggling chainsaws while roller skating on a tightrope.

Why would you need to know this?

Because I may not be at my best for a few weeks.

I will be multi-tasking my work responsibilities while also multi-tasking the responsibilities of getting a sophomore up and running in a way that equals a successful nine months. It will be trickier this year as, last year, we missed this cartwheel. I feel out of practice, if you must know. I don't even know if he needs new pants or a backpack as last year's first day required only sweats and a spot in the den.

Have mercy.

I have yet to look up the school supply lists. They are probably available. Probably. I actually haven’t even looked. Printing them puts a stamp of finality on summer and I find myself pushing that off further each year. I suppose it is because this is our last child. The start of each school year, with him, puts a stamp of finality on my time as a parent.

School supplies? I'm not sure they even matter anymore to the fifteen year old set. In past summers...I’ve printed, priced, and purchased the lists, verbatim, well ahead of Labor Day only to have the first week of school produce a whole new list and additional trips to stores with pillaged shelves. Eventually, I learned it’s just better to wait and panic shop after most dinners that first week. This year, I think he'll just use what he's got. Leftovers from an odd freshman year in which we bought, well, anything he wanted in order to try to make virtual school seem totally cool. We are now locked in forever to overpriced mechanical pencils.

I’m sorry if I’m late for my meetings. I’ll likely be distracted by forms and permission slips and the ‘Add to Cart’ button on our Schoology account. Don't we already own a T80 Calculator? Why am I buying another? Is the school's price the best price? Isn't there an exact model buried deep in the back of his sister's closet? And why the annual agenda? Why is that required? We've purchased this required item for a half dozen years now - yet they remain empty at the end of the school year. Or, at best, doodled in.

There’s something about the first weeks of school and getting them right that creates the belief that if we nail September, we’ll nail the rest of the year. I'm sorry if my reports are a bit less organized. I’ll be sidetracked reaching out to teachers, guidance counselors, school nurses, school staff, and the bus driver in hopes of solidifying positive relationships. I have yet to make an entrance to the high school during my youngest's tenure. I miss the smiles of relief when the volunteer mom walks in.

This isn’t to say I’m micro-managing my kids’ lives.

But I will be known.

I will be known as a mom who is available. A mom who shows up. A mom who supports our educators and wants to hear how I can make their lives easier. I will be known as a mom who will bend over backwards in thanks for spending hours each day with my teenager and his quirks, sense of humor, occasional attitude and, at times, unique smell.

So, my co-workers, I do apologize if I forget an email attachment. I may have inadvertently sent it to the Latin teacher instead.

I will be adjusting our home to the latest schedules, both during school and after. Our weekends will change. I will be figuring out where part time jobs fit on the calendar. I will be tracking who is picking up which children where and mapping out deliveries to friends' homes and soccer practices. I will be modifying wake up times, dinner times and bedtimes. I will have an eye on the electronics and how they are affecting time spent with a nose in the books.

I will likely start my work day and then suddenly disappear as we provide a built in Oops Taxi, car keys at the ready for forgotten papers, signatures, and gym suits. Only at the start, though, until the mulligans expire. So, no, I may not make that first thing in the morning deadline - not those first days when a kid without a mask equals a kid standing on the outside looking in.

In a few weeks, my work response time will edge back to normal. There will be less unanswered are you there? pings via our team chats. I will be there again, eventually, yes. But for a few weeks, I will be there for another person. One who would like to think he does not need me anymore, but who will nod a thanks for my participation when his friends are looking the other way.

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