Back to School – Then and Now

The following is a guest post from momAgenda COMM blogger Kim-Marie Evans.


Remember when back-to-school meant mom bought you some new pencils, a pair of sneakers and sent you off on the bus?


Back-to-school was exactly that, going back-to-school – well, not anymore.


Then: You got on the bus the first day of school and you went to school. Done.


Now: There are elaborate ceremonies before the first day, on the first day and even after the first week. Parents are expected to attend. These ceremonies are followed by coffees and “get to know you” lunches. I don’t think my mom knew any of the other moms, or had coffee. She seemed fine with that.


Then: You walked to school or took the bus. NO ONE got a ride (unless they had a broken leg, and then we were all envious).


Now: If you have to ride the bus (which constitutes child abuse according to my children) you need to be driven to the bus stop. Parents wait, with cars running (wouldn’t want the poor dears to get chilly). This ridiculousness is repeated every afternoon. The few times I’ve forced my children to walk the ¼ mile home, some other mom has picked them up along the way reinforcing the idea that I am abusive.


Then: Back-to-school shopping involved a few new outfits, some shoes and some pencils.


Now: Lists are sometimes distributed before school even ends for the year. Not only do you need to buy pencils, but massive amounts of supplies, different for each child. Even Kleenex and Wet Ones need to be purchased for the classroom. Don’t get me started on the designer clothing that is “necessary”. Remember when Gap was fancy?


Then: My parents met my teacher during the parent/teacher conference. If it didn’t go well, it was my fault and I was grounded. Full story.


Now: We meet the teachers before school starts, the first day, at the coffee gathering, at back-to-school night. We have access to the online portal and are expected to monitor our children’s schedules and homework. We hire tutors. If it doesn’t go well at the parent/teacher conference, it is the parents fault.


Looking at our test scores and general standing in the world, it doesn’t appear that all of this is helping our children. I know it’s really getting in the way of my tennis game and writing time.


Who do I lobby to just let my kids go to school?


I’ve already done my time, it’s their turn. Call me crazy, but I think they can do their own homework and walk themselves to the bus. Even when it’s raining. That’s why umbrellas were invented.


For more of my ranting: Please see “Why I Want to be a 1970’s Mom.”


Kim-Marie Evans is a New York area mom who writes about tips and tricks to make traveling with a large family easier on her blog The Luxury Travel Mom. Connect with Kim-Marie on Twitter and Facebook.

4 thoughts on “Back to School – Then and Now

  1. This one really hits home for me! It’s especially timely now, in September, when the sheer volume of parent coffee’s, cocktail parties, PTA meetings, back-to-school nights and teacher meetings are completely overwhelming my schedule. I am completely serious when I say I am spending more time in school or focusing on school than my children are.
    I will give an example. I sat through a 2-hour meeting for one of my kids’ sports teams, where I was presented with a folder almost an inch thick with information for me to be responsible for knowing. When I was a kid, the coaches didn’t hold meetings for parents. The kids were responsible for getting to practice. The kids were responsible for planning the team bake sale. The kids were responsible for getting a good nights’ rest. NOT THE PARENTS. When did things change over, and why?

  2. Nina,
    Last night I got all of the syllabus’s (syllabi?) from my son’s classes. So I could also be responsible for his test schedule. I’m not sure my mom even knew what classes I took, let alone the details of each.
    i would write more, but I have to finish the sign up sheets for today’s class coffee. I’m not joking. And I’m such a hypocrite.
    Bitter Class Mom

  3. I am not even going to talk about what happens at the high school when you have to be a team mom. Forget your paying job!!

    Can I also put a plea in to stop all the poetry readings, author teas, international day presentations, kindergarten plays, etc. How about ONE performance for the year. Working parents can take ONE afternoon off to attend. All these other events just add more stress to already stressed out parents, working out or inside the home! Rant over….

  4. KM – You NAILED this post. It really resonated with me, especially now that my son is in first grade. I totally get it.

    And your post really made me take a step back and recognize what is going on now vs. how it was when we were kids.

    Thank you for writing what so many of us are feeling – start a revolution mama, I’ll be right there alongside you.


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