Ask Bitch'in Suburbia: Back to School Edition

It’s that time of year again, but fear not: Your friendly neighborhood Bitch’in Suburbia has a freshly baked batch of advice on how to survive these first few weeks of drama and trauma as you (oh, and your kids, too) go BACK TO SCHOOL.

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia,

I have a terrible confession to make: I was never one of those parents who pushed her kids more than what was appropriate to their grade level. For example, I didn’t teach my oldest son to read before he started Kindergarten, I never had him tutored, enrolled him in after school enrichment, or signed him up for summer school. I thought this was fine and would help him lead a more balanced life. But now I look at his schedule and he’s in all “regular” classes, and I can’t help but worry that all these years I’ve been giving the boy a hall pass. What do you think?

Signed, Epstein’s Mother

Dear Epstein’s Mother:

Do you really have to ask what I think? If you didn’t have your son working on his dissertation from your womb, then you’ve already lost the battle, the war, and any chance at his intellectual salvation. You didn’t mention what grade he’s in, so for the sake of argument I’ll assume it’s not too late — maybe he’s going into second grade? Because second grade is the line of delineation. That’s when children are assessed and deemed gifted or not. That fancy colored folder determines their fate though the age of 42 or so, when from then on in they can slip into mid-life crisis and forget their tortured, failed youth. If he’s beyond second grade, consider cutting bait — literally, cut some bait and teach the kid to fish. Then at least he’d stand a chance at getting his own reality show because did we learn nothing from Deadliest Catch? There’s a money-making niche out their for your child if you just start looking NOW.

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia:

I just had a meeting that lasted over an hour with the other two parents in my carpool. One mom over communicates and the other doesn’t communicate at all. Am I going to end up driving twice as much? Was this carpool even a good idea? It seemed like it at the time.

Yours truly, Road Rage

Dear Road Rage:

Ahhh, carpools. Live by them, die by them. Usually in an ugly way, like of starvation and dehydration while sitting in rush hour traffic to get junior to practice, or a massive coronary due to the inordinate amount of stress involved with negotiating your carpool and (gasp) the Axis of Evil, aka other parents. The good news is that your school year carpool automatically makes you eligible for the Parents’ Martyr Association (PMA) — and membership has its benefits, including up to 50 or so years reminding your children of the sacrifices you made getting them to school and activities.

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia:

School hasn’t even started yet, and I’m already feeling totally overwhelmed. My inbox is full of messages from the school, the PTA, the new room parent, and the team mom. Worse, I’m swamped in a sea of “reply-alls,” and there are at least 50 crucial dates that I know I’m going to miss because it’s impossible to stay on top of all of the information, all of the time. Is it OK if I just get into a fetal position now until say June of next year?

Signed, Overwhelmed in Omaha

Dear Overwhelmed:

Did you just say IMPOSSIBLE? This is NOT a word in today’s parent vocabulary! Every thing is possible because we have the technology… no, not bionic limbs, although that would be nice and help you make lunch that much faster in the morning… but unbelievable organization tools to put everything you need at your fingertips. Take for example, Monday Envelope. It’s the all-in-one digital solution that I use to elevate my efficiency; it’s how I earned the title of Supreme Mistress of Time and Space. I just create a group, invite my people, and voila! No more reply all emails, no more crumpled papers in backpacks, no more angst. I’ve even created a group for my family because someone’s got to keep us on track and the family dog was busy napping. It’s how I manage to be President of the PTA, Team Mom, Room Parent, and Teacher — volunteer requests, events, activities and even fundraising is all in one place on any device I happen to be using. Now you know the secret, and guess what? You can check your Monday Envelope even from a fetal position, so NO EXCUSES!

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia:

I feel obligated to help my kids with everything that they need. My wife and I are working our butts off, losing sleep, stressing them out and spending inordinate sums of money all under the guise of expressing our “love.” When in reality we are not only smothering them and preventing their own experiences from unfolding, and our efforts actually handicap them and render them unprepared to handle any of this on their own when the time comes (which it will). I want to let go and give them the chance to screw it up on their own without my doting/controlling influence. Thoughts?

Doing my damnedest — Doting Dad

Dear Doting:

Don’t let the theme from Frozen fool you — there is no relief in letting go! You’ll end up in an icy castle all by yourself in your old age. The seeds of guilt and dependence are a potent hybrid, and if you stop planting them now, then there will be a horrible blossoming of independent, strong, mentally healthy adult children someday, and who wants that? My advice is to rid yourself of pesky thoughts of fostering self-reliance, and instead double down on infantilizing your growing children. Diapers now come in neon colors for “cool” teens, and most college age kids don’t even have teeth anymore because we cut everything into bite size pieces. I mean that figuratively and literally; if we’ve learned nothing from Mary Poppins, it’s that life is best served up coated with sugar. And if you do your job right now, there’s a debt counselor, a cadre of therapists, and a permanently warm bed in your house just waiting for your babies to “grow up.” Now isn’t that a comforting thought?

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia:

I have one word for you: HOMEWORK! A book list a mile long robbed our family of summer vacation, and now I know that I can look forward to hours each night and no weekend because projects will swallow us whole. Worse, my kids are in elementary school and I can’t even help the oldest anymore — he’s in fifth grade and I couldn’t understand his summer math sheets, never mind what’s to come this year. What should I do?

Signed, Dumber Than a Fifth Grader

Dear Dumber:

Don’t put yourself down! Surely you’re smart enough to mortgage your house to pay for tutors and test prep. And why do you find that homework is encroaching on family time? Homework IS family time! Even if you can’t handle little Johnny’s fifth grade pre-Calculus, you can rub his little feet and sing a soothing lullaby under your breath. Just sit next to him and stare at him blankly, but with love, and soon you’ll find that there’s no better way to spend your free time. Don’t forget to open the back door for that fresh air feeling next weekend!

Dear Bitch’in Suburbia:

I am so worried about the Common Core — and I don’t even know why! I’ve tried to study their website, but everything is vague and doesn’t give me a true understanding about what it is and how it will affect my children. Can you explain it to me in a way I can understand?

Sincerely, Confused from the Core

Dear Confused:

No. But comedian Louis C.K. can ‘splain:

 Please note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are satirical, just in case you couldn’t tell, and also just in case my kids’ teachers are reading this. (Just kidding! Not really… )

Disclosure: Monday Envelope floated me some back to school dough that will go right from my wallet to our neighborhood office supply store for back to school schtuff. I almost never plug anything, and when I do, it has to be something I really, really like. And I think the Monday Envelope interface is da bomb, baby! 

For more “Ask Bitch’in Suburbia,” check out the Youth Sports Edition. And for back to school from Bitch’in Suburbia, check out Back to School Daze (where I do talk more Common Core), The Shocking Truth About PTA Moms, and the original, Back to School.

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