My kids are starting school tomorrow. Actually it’s today, because I’m up very late. I’m just getting around to really looking at the letters their new teachers sent a few weeks ago. I mean, I skimmed them when they came in, but then I set them aside for later. Doesn’t get much later than this.
Fiona will be fine tomorrow. She’s got a list of supplies to bring in, but it’s first grade so I’m fairly sure if I bring them in on Monday it will be cool. The only things mentioned for the first day for her are her favorite book (no problem) and a picture of her family holding that book (can probably wrangle at least three of us in the morning and print out a pic). But Jake, well, his letter specifically says that he needs his supplies the FIRST day. And yes, FIRST is in all caps. Shit.
The first day totally snuck up on me, which is ironic because I’ve been waiting for this day for weeks. But thanks to the schedule being bizarre this year, I never really considered the 8th of September the first day. We weren’t even sure we were going to go. There’s the first day, then FOUR days off. Really, in my head, the first day has always been Monday the 13th. So it didn’t seem like a big deal that I hadn’t done the school supply shopping yet. But there it is on Jake’s letter, in all caps.
I’m quite sure he won’t be the only kid in his class tomorrow without supplies, but that won’t make it any better. To add to it, he didn’t do any of the summer homework. To tell you the truth I’m not even sure he was aware that there was summer homework. There was a packet sent home at the end of the year, as there has been every year. And we’ve never done it. And nobody has ever said a thing. But his teacher mentions this packet in her letter as well. No caps, but still, it’s in there. So I can’t even claim I forgot. She reminded me.
This wasn’t forgetfulness or procrastination, though. This was a conscious decision on my part. My son got good grades last year, and his standardized test scores were fantastic. And once third grade ended I considered him done for the summer. Summer is for fun. Summer is for video games and playing outside and camp and yes, reading, but for fun, not for keeping track and logging. Out of ten weeks of summer Jake was in day camp for seven weeks, traveling for two, and home for one. There was absolutely no way after a full, long, exhausting day of camp I was going to make him sit down and do homework, no matter how little it was. I was not going to make him do it while traveling and visiting family. It’s my time off too.
So why is this an issue? Because besides my son learning how to read and write and think and get along with other people, I send him to school to learn respect. His school sent home a summer packet of homework and I told him it was OK to ignore it. His teacher sent a reminder and I ignored it. How can I reconcile my attitude toward summer homework with the values I’m trying to instill in him, of respecting his teachers and being responsible?
Frankly, I can’t. It’s just one of those things I’ll have to live with despite it making no sense in my head, like sneaking candy into a movie theater or going ten miles per hour over the speed limit on the thruway. If his teacher sends home a note or gives him a big problem, I’ll have him do the math homework over the four-day weekend. As far as the reading log goes, that’s just a lost cause. He read and re-read some of his favorite books this summer, purely for pleasure. I’m not sorry about that.
Soon enough, before he knows it, summer won’t be his anymore. He’ll have a summer job, and then someday just a job, one that doesn’t get summers off. For as long as I can get away with it, I’m keeping school and homework out of summer. I just hope if the teacher doesn’t like it, she understands that it was my decision, not his.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and Momtourage.