Monday, August 29, 2011

Don't Put My Son in a Box...or a Bag

The first (half) day of school has come and gone for my sons.  Unlike preseason games in the NFL, their first day usually provides an accurate glimpse ahead at what is to come.  They return home from school with the start of the year letters home, bracing parents for the challenges that lie before them.

I always take my time and pore over these syllabi.  In this way, I am able to predict just how difficult it will be for my sons and, more importantly, my wife and myself to keep up on the daily activities and homework that will be sent home with.  It often becomes immediately apparent which teachers will have you scrambling all over the place trying to complete projects.

For instance, my second grader came home today with four things in his book bag.  First, an empty folder.  Second, his English book.  Third, a book cover.  Last, a school-issued assignment notebook which, under todays date, listed his night's homework: cover English book.  I can tell I'm going to like this teacher already.

My third grader, on the other hand, came home with papers in his folder.  There was the standard note home welcoming my son to the class replete with far too many exclamation points (punctuation will apparently only be glanced over this coming year).  He also had homework that involved his needing to find six things that described his personality which he would then place in a paper bag and return with to school.  It's a neat little way for the kids to get to know each other.

But there was more.

There was also a multi-pocket folder, a school supply item that was particularly difficult for me to find in the first place, which required that I label the pockets of the folder with the different class titles.  It was a slightly annoying task whose completion was made more annoying to me because that folder just wouldn't seem to leave me alone.  However, it was deemed acceptable as it is the beginning of the school year and some busy work need be done in preparation.

Then I found another sheet of paper.  It was homework for my wife and I (groan).

My son's third grade teacher provided a series of questions asking us to describe our son.  She asked details about any allergies as well as his aspirations and shortcomings and our overall impression of our own son.

"That's cheating!" I promptly overreacted (notice the exclamation point).  She didn't want to have to put forth the effort of trying to get to know our son on her own.  She wanted all the answers handed to her.  What kind of example is that to set for aspiring scholars?

I wasn't about to bite.  So, on the very first question which called for us to write down the three words we would use to describe our son, I wrote, "Mysterious, Enigmatic and Awesome."

When asked what motivates our son, I wrote, "Cold hard cash."

The response for what we hoped our son would take away from this upcoming school year was, "A base understanding of quantum physics."

The thing that causes our son anxiety was described as, "The recurring dreams that his dominion over the Force combined with his fear of loss might result in his turning to the Dark Side."

Good luck figuring this one out, lady.

I can't wait for parent-teacher conferences.

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