MOM’S VOICE: Back to School Night in Reverse

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Back to School Night is brilliant.

We can get a feel for the new grade level our children have entered and get to know the new teachers. Sitting at our child’s name-tagged desk in plastic chairs, we listen to the teacher speak while smells of newly sharpened pencils and fresh rubber erasers waft from the desk cubby. We get a sense of each teacher’s personality and classroom management system.

Everyone receives The Packet – a bunch of handouts, including volunteer opportunities.

By the end of the evening, we walk away with a solid overview of the year to come. We leave, feeling like honor parents. We’ve donated an adorable box of Kleenex, and lemon-scented Clorox wipes. We have signed up to chaperone field trips and bake cupcakes in the coming months.

There is nothing like those first glory days of school. A perfect attendance record, no overdue library books.

I think Back to School Night should be a two-way street, completing the triangle of parents, teachers, and students. Being in our home one evening would help teachers understand and maybe sympathize when we lose some ground later in the year.

We could start with a tour.

Here’s the entryway where no one is allowed to leave their school bags or anything that would obstruct coming and going. It is riddled with school bags. And shoes, and half eaten lunches that the dog has tried to drag out of partially opened said school bags. But its only September. Gentle reminders and positive affirmations have not yet given way to bold threats.

Here’s the laundry pile no one has put away yet. That’s Scrubby, our dog, sitting on it. Now when the kids go to school in wrinkled clothes covered in white fur, their teacher will know that the clothes are actually clean.

They would be welcome at our dinner table. Except no one has cleared the table of their notebooks, uniforms, Legos, markers and projects. Besides, Wyatt has been invited to eat at Derek’s down the street, Payton won’t be home from lacrosse until 8 p.m., and Dad is going straight from work to pick him up. The girls would rather eat on stools at the counter than clear off the table. I invite the teachers to eat like I do – standing up, leaning against the counter.

Of course the teachers will not be able to stay for bedtime, but that will be covered in the packet. The blue sheet lists all the bedtime dysfunction – kids getting out of bed, claiming they are thirsty, have a stomachache, can’t sleep, etc. The most important flier in the packet will be the orange paper: The Apology.

Dear (fill in teacher’s name here),

We are looking forward to a great school year! Please accept my apology for being the last parent to turn in the emergency clothes for the possible impending natural disaster and the parent who loses the permission slips and needs another copy for all field trips for the year.

Enclosed is a gift card to Starbucks. I apologize I will be unable to shop for an individual gift or make a unique handcrafted gift for Teacher Appreciation, Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and the Last Day of School. Hopefully the $100 I have put on the gift card will cover it all in one shot and you will forgive my lack of creativity.

Finally, I would like to apologize in advance for the processed snacks you may see in our child’s lunch, as well as the non-environmentally friendly Ziploc bags or occasional plastic water bottle. I value healthy choices and a clean planet but not more than convenience on many days.


Mrs. Fales






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