I call B.S. If I’ve offended you already with my less than savory choice of words, then maybe you don’t want to read the rest of this article. If however, you have uttered these words in response to anything recently, then maybe you might be able to appreciate this standpoint.
It’s the official start of the year. Yes, no matter how old you are, if you have kids, the new year begins in September not January. Along with the endless school supply lists and forms comes a host of articles providing well meaning advice on how to make the new year the best yet. My intention is not to criticize these articles, I’m sure these tips are valid and a lot of households thrive by subscribing to them. I, however, and not one of those moms, and shocker folks… my kids are still, fed, dressed, make good grades, and generally behave. This was all accomplished without a nutritious “breakfast basket” of options each morning, nor a perfectly color coded white board, a Pinterest-worthy “drop zone” or the need to make my kids adhere to a military worthy timeline (P.S.: all of these came directly out of a recent back to school article.)
I’m not a helicopter parent, and I’m not a free range parent. I’m somewhere in between, and for the rest of you who reside in this area, which has yet to be given a formal name by mainstream media, I call bull shit on 98% of the aforementioned back to school articles. I can assure you there is a zero percent chance that I am going to set a goal journal out for my kids, argue about bed making or make sure lunch is totally organic made with essential oils, vitamins supplements, and cold pressed juice. Oh, and by the way, nobody will in fact miss the opportunity to become a NASA scientist because their mother failed to build a Pottery Barn-esque organization station for them to stash their Chemistry book. The list could go on and on, with each sounding more unobtainable than the rest (at least to me, and if you’ve gotten this far in the article, I’m guessing you too.)
So I have decided to write the back to school article I want to see. The woman who does not claim to have it all figured out, the woman who does not have an idea board, the woman who is just trying to raise her kids, and yes she occasionally swears (and, gasp I don’t have a swear jar which matches my Kitchen curtains… which reminds me I should get Kitchen curtains) and often quips back with a slight tone of sarcasm.
So for all of you other in-betweeners out there, here is the back to school article for you:
- I find it helpful to teach your kids to forge your signature early. Schools have not gone paperless, and in this litigious society we have roughly 18 forms per kids to fill out. There is a good chance only ⅓ of them are making it your way, and an even better chance that most of those won’t actually get filled out. Having your kids nail your signature early will save you loads of time on paperwork for years to come.
- Outfits won’t be laid out for the day, much less the week, and if push comes to shove everyone knows where the bottle of Gain scented Febreeze is (or at least should be.)
- It is not likely I’m going to keep color pencils around for everyone to write down their appointments/needs in an assigned color. You have an iphone, you have a gmail. If you want me to be there or remember it, send me a calendar invite… AND make sure I accept it. Otherwise all bets are off.
- On the same note, I won’t spend my dinner time, or snack around on the island time discussing the next days agenda. Heads up, I’m freaking tired at the end of the day. You know what I want to talk about? What we are going to binge watch next on Netflix. But, I am an involved parent regardless of what some might think, so I am inviting you to watch with me and even have input on what we watch.
- History has already shown that I, like most parents, will in fact be late to work every single day during the first week of school. I no longer make apologies for it, however I have learned to simply not have any meetings scheduled prior to 11 a.m. that week. In case you were wondering I did not need a series of back to school emojis plastered to my cloud based calendar to indicate my tardiness. I just show up late. End of story.
- If you miss the bus, walk. If you forget a book or paper, fess up, don’t make an excuse, and take what comes your way for it. Why? Because one day you will have to get up and go to work without anyone gently waking you up with encouraging song, your lunch might be whatever stale granola bar you find in your desk, and although you might go home to a curtainless kitchen at night, you will look back and say thanks to that in between parent of yours. After all, life is great, bad and everything in between and sometimes you need a little bullshit to cope.
Kara Vanderpool Ward is owner of Triple V Enterprises where she works daily along side her father, affectionately dubbed the Suit, and her brother, The Hoodie. She is the United States Winner of the Hot Momma’s Project, the worlds largest case study project for women housed at George Washington University, and the recipient of the Patricia Lacy Metzger Distinguished Woman Award from The University of Mary Washington. She lives in Charlottesville, VA with her husband and two teenage daughters and is caregiver to her 88 year old grandmother.