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Less yelling, more backpack-checking: My new school year's resolutions

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I recently overheard one of my son’s friends ask him if he had gotten his school supplies yet. “Wait. What? My school ... but it’s just ...” Poor kid. He really has no idea the glorious days of summer are so near their end. It’s not his fault. I’ve been in denial too. It looks like another year of picking through what’s left at Target after the more together moms have bought up all the cool stuff. Dang.

I guess it really is time to pull myself together, buy the blasted school supplies and get excited about the year to come! My own unwillingness to face the inevitable may have cost my son his choice of Trapper Keepers, but that doesn’t mean the whole school year has to be a bust.

My lack of enthusiasm ends now. We have a whole new year ahead of us, full of learning, discovery, fun and all that crap.

And what better way to start a new year than with a list of resolutions to ensure the best year yet?

Here are my new (school) year resolutions:


I will take a charming photo of all of my children on the first day of school. Seriously. This is happening. I will get a post-worthy photo of my kids or die trying. And not to seem too ambitious, but I’m getting one on the last day of school too — for one of those adorable side-by-side comparison pictures.

I will not forget school picture day. While we are on the subject, this is the year I will remember picture day in time to schedule haircuts. I will also fill out my order form the night before it’s due — not 30 seconds before we have to be out the door. And I will actually frame, display and/or give away my kids’ school photos. No more sticking $40 worth of pictures of my shaggy-haired kids in a drawer.

No one is going to bed without knowing the exact location of his or her shoes. This will save us much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Bonus points for anyone who does not have to dig through the dreaded sock basket before school frantically searching for two socks that match.

Come to think of it, I will just get rid of the sock basket. So the bonus points will actually go to the kid who helps me match up all the socks before school starts.

I will check my son’s backpack relatively often. I’m not promising every night. That’s just crazy talk. But I will check it often enough to avoid that embarrassing moment when the teacher discovers the disgusting smell in her room is coming from a 3-week-old ham and cheese sandwich rotting away beneath a stash of old papers in a student's backpack — not that this has ever happened to us.

I will sign all permission slips. Another result of willy-nilly backpack checking is that I may or may not have failed to sign a field trip permission slip in the past. On the plus side, my son really got to know the school librarian that day.

I will read everything I sign. Of course, an overcorrection of the permission slip problem is signing everything carte blanche. This is a bad policy. Sometimes a volunteer form is carefully disguised as a permission slip. I’ve learned the hard way to read the fine print.

My teenage daughters will sign a blood oath agreeing not to fight in the mornings. No one needs that kind of drama before 9 a.m., but if they insist on duking it out over who lost the good hairbrush or whose turn it is to wear the gray boots, then fine. But the loser has to clean out their little brother’s backpack.

I will give better teacher gifts. To all of my children’s former teachers, sorry about last Christmas and the lottery ticket taped to a pack of Tic Tacs. But, in my defense, they won’t let me bring bottles of wine into the school. Still, this year I will at least try to tape the lottery ticket to something chocolate.

I will not yell at my kids before school. No matter what they forget. No matter how much they dawdle. No matter how late we are running. The last thing my precious babies hear from me before they start their day will not be something I have angrily shouted nor spat through clenched teeth. Because when that happens, I invariably spend the rest of the day worrying that I will, for some reason, drop dead before 3:00 and the last thing they will remember is me screaming about the tardy bell or how they forgot to feed the dog again.

I will remember that the days are long — so much longer than when we were in school. They get fewer recesses. They have to take in far more information. They are expected to learn and know and process so much more. So, I will be patient with them when they are cranky. I will give them time and space to chill and decompress. I will listen when they need to complain or even whine a little. And I will wipe away the tears when the homework is too hard (before they see me crying).

So peace out summer! Bring on the school year!

Our family is ready ... as soon as we finally buy the blasted school supplies.

A version of this post originally appeared on Scary Mommy

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