Do you have a child beginning kindergarten this fall? Congratulations! My oldest son was in kindergarten last year. It was wonderful. He learned so much. And I did too. In fact, having made it through the year with a significant amount of trial and error, I thought I’d help you along this back-to-school season with some “tips” I learned the hard way:
1. Even if you write a note at the beginning of the year that says, “A preemptive yes to everything,” you will still be asked to sign each and every permission slip and parental consent form.
2. You’ll have to provide a phone number in case of an emergency. It turns out that the school needs something other than “Call 911.”
3. Some schools allow you to make “friend requests” before class assignments are made. Evidently, writing “Ethan or Evan or Aiden something or other” isn’t considered specific enough.
4. Because the list of school supplies is so lengthy, you might think that they are only suggestions. They’re not. If you only bring in the things that you think your child will use, it will annoy the teacher.
5. The first time you meet the school principal, don’t ask about the possibility of booking Ke$ha for the kindergarten graduation party.
6. The second time you meet the school principal, don’t ask about when you can get a “My Child Is An Honor Roll Student” bumper sticker. She will say she’s running late to a meeting.
7. No matter how insightful and spot-on you are in your analysis, most parents won’t like it if you provide weekly recaps of The Real Housewives of New York on your school’s listserv.
8. School nurses can’t (and won’t!) write you a prescription.
9. On parent-teacher night, questions should relate to the curriculum. “Do you believe in life on other planets?” doesn’t go over well.
10. Even if you never actually sing any of its lyrics, and even if it’s just for a minute, your child’s teacher might abruptly end your parent conference if you hum Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love Of All” while he or she is talking.
11. Parents get mad if you offer their children constructive criticism after the school play.
12. If you volunteer in the cafeteria, you will spend most of your time opening plastic tubes of yogurts. You will spend the rest of your time cleaning up yogurt spills from plastic tubes.
13. The drop-off playdate is popular. Asking parents to sign liability waivers is not.
14. On Halloween, your school may hold a party. Parents may be encouraged to dress up. Don’t wear a Playboy bunny costume. Even if you already own a Playboy bunny costume, so it seems like a huge waste of time and money to buy something new: it isn’t. Trust me.
15. The school talent show is for student performances only.
16. If your school’s art teacher is sensitive, she won’t like being nicely asked if your child could only make projects that match your home’s color scheme. (And, if you send in any color swatches, you won’t get them returned.)
17. No matter what time the birthday party is held, everyone expects cake. You would think that a party held from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. wouldn’t require food, but it will. And, if you don’t serve cake, no one will budge until you stand on the table and announce that the party is officially over, and it’s time to go home.
18. Composing a haiku in honor of your child’s teacher in lieu of participating in the class gift comes across as “cheap.”
19. School crossing guards don’t like to hear any excuses about why you didn’t listen when they told you to stop. They don’t care if you are running really late to a hair appointment. They also don’t take bribes.