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The 37 Worst Things About Back-to-School Season

Your kids might be excited but that doesn't mean you have to be.

Back-to-school time has come. You can tell because the scent of industrial desk cleaner is already seeping from the classrooms of America. This probably comes as good news to your kids: New friends! New class! New teacher! And, to be honest, as parents, not having to coordinate daily care for your offspring is a huge relief. But that doesn’t mean it’s all shiny apples and red roses. Each season is insufferable in its own way. Back-to-school season is no different. Just in case you’ve forgotten what hell a new school year brings, we’re happy to remind you.

  1.  Many months of not knowing the names of your kid’s friends’ parents and faking it, heroically but transparently.
  2. Listening to endless recitations of other peoples’ summer vacations.
  3. Endless recitations of your own summer vacation.
  4. The sad slow drifting away of last year’s friends (and parents) who aren’t in the same class.
  5. The jettisoning of the perfectly good backpack/lunchbox simply because it’s a new school year and the forces of capitalism have dictated everything has to be new! New! New!
  6. The tyranny of the 7 a.m. wake up, now enforced by the Department of Education.
  7. The harassing auto-calls from the Department of Education when your kid arrives five minutes late.
  8. The return of the morning drop-off commute, a.k.a. the end of biking to work.
  9. The futile preparation of a packed lunch when you know your kid is just going to pick the french fries off the cafeteria tray and throw out the rest.
  10. A new year of emotional turmoil as children tenderly suss out new friendships. So, another year of Dad crying outside the school gates.
  11. The “Oh Shit We Forgot …” morning panic to meet deadlines for dumb and ultimately trivial school projects.
  12.  Getting and paying babysitters for two hours to go to a pointless parent-teacher conference.
  13.  Fundraisers for which you will buy or force others to buy terrible stuff to burden their life and clutter their home.
  14.  The nightly homework battle where you have to force your kid to do work of questionable value to their educational outcome.
  15. So many folders.
  16. Discovering there’s a bully in your kid’s classroom.
  17. Discovering that your kid is the bully in his classroom.
  18. Flu season.
  19. Viruses.
  20. Pandemonium.
  21. Even though generally, the school year gives parents more time, the constant patchwork of school holidays, half-days, etc., becomes a nightmare juggling act that invariably ends in a bitter row between self and spouse about whose professional priorities are paramount. This frequently reveals patriarchal tendencies which are, you know, gross.
  22. The endless birthday party circuit and the attendant small amounts of money forfeited to the toy store for some trinket destined for a heap of unplayed-with toys.
  23. Comforting your young scholar as he struggles to keep up with reading and writing because you — the parent — didn’t plan correctly and he was born in December so he’s the youngest in his class and his fine motor skills are still developing, not to mention his emotional maturity.
  24. Forgetting, or not knowing, the teacher’s name.
  25. Confusing the teacher with the paraprofessional and then feeling that the teacher will hold that against you forever and therefore take it out on your kid which, will, in turn, cascade into a series of suboptimal educational outcomes with the end result that there will be no one to take care of you when you’re old.
  26. The back-and-forth and frequent forgetting of library books left in bags and desks.
  27. Constant email notifications about participation in school events that you simply can’t attend (and attendant feelings of guilt).
  28. The end of the three months where you didn’t think about Common Core at all.
  29. That new friend your kid makes who you know is just bad news.
  30. And then you meet the kid’s parents and have to spend your Saturday afternoon with garbage people talking about football like you either know or care.
  31. The rapid accumulation of juvenile (by definition) artwork and sundry creative projects of questionable artistic merit.
  32. The inevitability that a child will teach other children to say, “You fucking idiot!” and how that will reflect upon you when another kid calls her parents that.
  33. The doomed attempt to keep track of which kid is in what aftercare activity on what day.
  34. Annoying “Tuesdays are gym class so please wear sneakers!” emails, when all your kid wears is sneakers.
  35. The daily asphyxiation of your child’s creativity at the hands of an outdated educational system which seems hell-bent on preparing them for an economy that won’t even exist by the time they enter the workforce.
  36. That fact that some other kid is going to introduce them to yet another Imagine Dragons song and then you’ll be stuck in a battle waged via Google Home over who gets to play what and how often.
  37. The sad reality that you’ll miss your kids because you really loved getting to hang out with them more during the summer.