Billy Crystal’s character, Harry in “Harry met Sally”, and I are on the same page when it comes to being confused about the New Year. While he was puzzled with the night’s theme song, “Should old acquaintance be forgot". Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances or does it mean if we happen to forget them we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot them!?—I am baffled why we choose the first day of January to mark the beginning of the year. I believe many a parent will tell you the start of the year begins not with the dropping of a ball in the Big Apple but with the sound of the school bus slicing through the morning quiet.
The start of school is my ruler that clearly marks another year’s passing and with it the reminder that the duties of my most cherished job as mother will once again be modified. There are however, some things that will remain constant no matter what grade your child is entering. As the REAL New Year is now upon us I’m officially bracing myself for the following:
A required task that your child is expected to complete. Attempts to help him/her will result in discovering that there is a distinct possibility that you may not be smarter than a fifth grader. After hours of trying to figure out what “X” equals, you will say “WHY” (as in, would you care). Countless story problems involving the departures of train A and train B might find you telling your child to take the bus.
School Supply Shopping –
A challenging treasure hunt that leads families on a hunt for items to enhance the educational experience. Statically, a trip to more than one location is required upon discovering that ONE item is not available at the first stop. Note to parents: Be prepared to take out a second mortgage before purchasing the calculator that will be outdated or lost within six months and (not that this has ever happened to me) make certain you have THIS year’s supply list.
High octane, time consuming endeavors that allow your child to express their creativity and test a parent’s patience and need for Prozac. Please note, with the best of intentions, I tried to fight the urge to jump in and lend my talents to my children—I really did-—until the son of an electrical engineer dad showed up with a black wooden board with white lights in the shape of various constellations that were synced to the music of Elton John’s “Rocket Man”. In comparison, my child made the sun by spray painting a Styrofoam ball bright yellow (remnants of which took weeks to wash off the dog and rug) and hung it from a hanger with one of the Corgi’s squeaky toys to represent the earth. For a brief but highly memorable time following that experience, I got a bit too involved. I eventually came to my senses. I did however, find it necessary to intervene and whip up a new batch of candy Buckeyes when we found Helena’s missing Band-Aid in the first one.
Parent/teacher conferences –
Thirty minutes of one-on-one with your child’s educator where you are forced to sit in chairs that are age appropriately sized for the current grade level your child is in. Advil may be required. Warning: your child may share more than you will have ever imagined and clarification on various topics may be required. I once was met with a, “Mrs. Darah, I understand you’re selling alcohol in your basement,” when in reality I was holding meetings as chairman of a wine auction for a local charity.
Organized physical activities that may cause the formation of lines on parent’s behinds from sitting on aluminum in extreme weather conditions; may also cause alienation from friends after repeated attempts to have them purchase everything from spirit wear to wrapping paper to support the team. Note to parents of student athletes; never, and I mean NEVER, smell an article left on the floor to determine whether it needs to be washed and to avoid stress, NEVER let the “lucky” socks or jersey out of your sight.
The New Year will also include driving until you can’t remember the last time your feet hit the ground; mentally putting Pop Tarts in the fruit group and endless supportive talks to get your child through everything from zits to heartache. Get creative in this department. I told my college freshman who gained that “freshman 35” instead of 15, that on the bright side, she was certainly an overachiever.
This is the year I will get permission slips in on time, bedtime will be earlier, and I will not wait to buy poster board until a crisis. In the words of Joey Adams, “May your troubles last as long as your resolutions.” Happy New Year!