The good news is I made it to back-to-school night

by Janelle Hanchett

The good news is, I made it to back-to-school night. I am happy to report that after 14 years, 10 months as a mother, I have figured out how to read school calendars and not miss important events like “paper parades” – HEY BTDUBS WHY CAN’T WE USE THE INTERNET FOR ALL THAT PAPERWORK LIKE REGULAR FUCKING HUMANS? – and, of course “back to school night.”

I even went for both elementary kids.

The questionable news, though, is that once again I said something I should have kept inside, thereby marking myself already as The Freak Mom. In front of the entire first grade classroom.

Why is that always my job, people? Why?

It was going fine until I tried to be funny.

(Story of my fucking life.)

But it wasn’t my fault. The teacher asked if we wanted her to “review the homework packets or throw them away at the end of the week” and I was like HAHAHA reviewing homework of first graders LOLLLZ! And I laughed, and then she looked at me, and I was like, “Oh for sure throw them away. Less work for you, and, I mean, they’re 6. We’ll probably all be okay if they’re not, like, graded.”

Approximately nobody in the room thought I was funny but HOMEWORK WHAT COME AGAIN?

It’s first grade. Where are my people? 

I shot a look at my mom, who was standing in for my husband because he was at our oldest kid’s back-to-school night, which was scheduled on, that’s right, the same night at the same time.  

Maybe the school district hates us and that’s why they make us choose kids by having it on the same night.

You know what? Maybe the same person who created the paper parade – AND CALLS IT “THE PAPER PARADE” MIGHT I ADD – also decided that having the elementary and junior high back-to-school nights at the exact same time is a good call.

This is why I don’t go to PTA meetings. I hate everything.

Also, I prefer complaining about the way things are done instead of actually doing anything about them.

WHAT? Isn’t that the American way?

Not that they don’t have good reason for making parents show up at the school instead of, oh, I don’t know, emailing like humans. I’m sure they have a perfectly good reason for making us all show up at 5pm on a Monday in August when it’s 375 degrees outside so we can stand in line with a bunch of flailing children to get tiny half-sheets of paper check-marked instead of, say, texting.

For example, it gives them a chance to size us up, and it gives us a chance to size each other up.

I’m fucking kidding. I mean, I definitely don’t ADORE the “paper parade” – event or nomenclature – but I know it’s probably the first and possibly only time some of those parents will make it onto campus to support their kids.

Stop being dicks and ruining it for the rest of us, parents.


Anywho, I quieted down after the homework comment and started sorting through the papers. There was a common core math grading sheet, a list of all the things my kid needs to know by second grade, a sample report card, and a daily schedule, which was jam-packed minute-by-minute with math and language arts and science and all kinds of important shit except playing, art, music, and/or any variation of FUN.

Being something of a nihilist, my brain immediately shot to everything I know about schools being machines to create worker-bees and mindless obedient drones and I thought about my little 6-year-old George and was like I MUST GET HER OUT OF HERE.

And then I remembered her telling us how they have to line up all day by number (She is number 14. She was 6 last year. So on her papers she has to write “Georgia 14,” which has always freaked me out) and this got me thinking of dystopian sci-fi novels where all the people become numbers, and then I started imagining millions of humans whose lives had been reduced to numbered assembly lines of obedience and that got me thinking of unschooling, and if that was possible, and whether or not I was personally ruined by public school, and how really that’s not relevant because I used to PLAY in school in 1987 and then I heard my mom say, “Janelle! Are you even listening?!”

No. No I was not, mom. I was imagining dystopian death camps, but thanks.

Also, damn. Now the teacher is talking about folders. This seems important.

But I start coloring the bookmark we’re supposed to make for our kid because LEMME TELL YA SOMETHING IF I DON’T DO IT NOW THAT SHIT AIN’T HAPPENING EVER.

I write “You are my best” and possibly cry a little, because she was two years old when she started saying that to me and now here she is in The Matrix.

When I tune back in she’s telling us about “reading packets” and I catch the last, fatal words, “Must be turned in weekly,” and I know I’m fucked.

Uh, mom did you catch that? 

Hi, I’m 37.

Then it was over. I looked around at the parents and I was like, “Wow, homework in first grade, huh?” And they were like, “Yep!” with glee.

So I nudged, “Seems a little young, don’t you think?”

They unanimously disagreed, saying “it wasn’t much” and “taught responsibility.”

In my brain, I added VOLUNTEERING TO BECOME NUMBERS as a thematic element to my dystopian fiction while I smiled  largely) to mask my utter fear of them.

A sentence formed in my head: When did they give up living? The main character would ask that at some point. I felt a wave of depression.

All of this because of first-grade back-to-school night.

Is this normal?

Where are my fellow weirdo nihilists? I NEED YOU. Can we have some sort of signal for events like this?

Like at the paper parade and back-to-school night we can have a hand gesture that means, “Yes, I too am worried about folders and numbers and lines obliterating humanity one gleeful school year at a time and together we must FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT for of brain and body!”

Later, my friend told me I could just not have her do the homework, which I thought was fucking brilliant, but when I asked George about it she was like, “I can’t wait to do homework!”

So that was a motherfucking quandary.

But she does hate lining up all day. And I can’t blame her.

I told her she should enjoy it now, because someday, when we all exist on rubber assembly line belts moving through our lives with microchip-brains, lining up in sequential order will feel like the good ol’ days.

I didn’t actually say that though. I know better.


I just told her, “Lining up sucks, but keep one foot out of the line at all times to remember who you are.”

She looked at me like I am an alien and ran away, but as she left, I whispered, “They can never break you unless you let them!”


Happy new school year, bitches! Let’s make it a great super normal one!

found this battle-axe drawing on Rocket's desk so that's promising

found this battle-axe drawing on Rocket’s desk so that’s promising

  • Christina

    I too told my first grader, last year when she was IN KINDERGARTEN, that I was going to talk to her teacher about having her not do the homework and my daughter was like “NO! I LOVE HOMEWORK!” Um, ok dude. Whatever. And I actually have a PhD in education policy. Oh, and get this, she told me that they spent their whole 20 minute recess, 20 minutes out of a 7 hour long school day, practicing lining up. For two entire days of recess the first week of school. No playing. Practicing lining up for the only 20 minutes of recess they get. What the actual fuck?!?

  • Rose

    Lol!We are out here trust me! I know a hand gesture I would like to use regarding the crazy ass homework!! Cause it just seems to get worse the older they get. Hopefully the push to limit homework especially in younger grades will keep going.
    Thanks for brightening up my day!

  • Sarah

    We’re here! Or maybe we’re not! It’s possible I’m just hiding in my house eating ice cream leaving angry comments around the internet.

    Homework yo. I don’t have time to mess around with that. My kids are three and I’m already eyeing private play based nature focused schools because while I thought it would be fun to go around with the school system before I had kids, it is really just depressing and exhausting and time consuming. I enjoy a good fight and have a chronic case of stickittodamaneosis, but I am old and tired.

    It feels like everyone is so scared to stand up and say, wait a minute, this is insanity. But IT IS INSANITY. And someone has to say it, and give someone else the courage to say it, and then maybe something will change.

    • Biz


  • Barbara

    My kids’ school must have heard the “homework is useless in early grades” speech this summer because we went from a packet that took my highly motivated oldest child 2 hours every night to get it done, (Let’s never speak of the hell that was getting the 2nd born motivated, did not happen) to “Homework will only be assigned if work is not finished during the school day.” (which was all the homework I ever got as a kid, none of this ‘homework for homework’s sake’. So we are homework free this year. (except the first grader, her teacher is old school,but 3rd born is like 1st born and highly motivated (read that as loves homework.) But the paperwork? 2.5 hours at the Open house filling out the same 6 forms 3 times each. Why can’t we use last years?

  • Vickie

    I am a teacher at secondary school in the UK (6th grade and above US) and I hate the fact I have to set homework for most kids. My 5yr old gets homework. I hate that too. Trying to rebel from inside the system…

  • Lizzie Lau

    I moved, actually changed countries, to avoid homework in Kindergarten. Offspring just started 1st grade and it is play based as well. Yay. My sister’s two kids (age 9 and 12) both received notes home from their teachers that were basically plagiarized from a meme that was circulating:

    “Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”

    Come to Canada your fellow weirdo nihilists are up here. xo

    • Carrie

      Where are you in Canada? Where I am there is real homework that I try to never make my kids do…

  • Michelle

    Just so you know, you’re not alone: I am your people. In my own classes, I have started telling my students that I can provide a rigorous and challenging learning experience without giving them homework every single night. My kids’ kindergarten back-to-school night is this Thursday, and I may be making fake vomiting noises when they talk about homework.

  • Kerry

    I went to my first grader’s back-to-school night, and I couldn’t understand a word the teacher said about the math curriculum. And I’m an engineer. Believe me, we are out here.

  • Beast

    All of this! You made my day, and it is good to know I’m not the only one torn between unschooling and this crazy shit.

  • Sue

    No music, no art, no learning an instrument,no dancing instruction, no outdoor play, no PE, what are we raising? Little Robots, and they know how to line up by number, and they know how to memorize crap to pass a COMMON CORE test, (Why the name, when there is Absolutely NO Common Sense taught!)and then they get a diploma (usually an “Attendance Diploma”), get out of school and go to work at McDonalds and can’t function if the computer goes down because NOBODY Taught them to Count Change!!!
    WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE “EDUCATION” PEOPLE??? Can they not SEE how horrible this is and how much damage they are causing with this kind of program? I am a 70 year old grandmother and I want to weep at the disservice that is being done to the kids in grade school and all the way on up to the end of college now. SOMEBODY PLEASE Make the Change Needed to give these children an Education. Forget “memorizing” and teach them Thought process, teach them to THINK, teach them to daydream and follow their wandering minds to new revelations. Get them out of the little concrete box they have been locked into and out in the fresh air… LET THEM BREATHE! Thank you, Rant is Now Over…….

    • Renee

      There is nothing wrong with the educators. What is wrong is the people who make the rules for the educators. They are usually non-educators that follow the suggestion of some idiot that feels we need to teach the kids 15 different ways to come up with the answer for the same problem because it makes them think “outside the box”. Well, bullshit! If you get the right answer, that should be good enough. You are getting that answer in the “box” that you think in. Hate it! Let the teachers teach and you would see a change in how things are done now. They would incorporate say, common sense in their curriculum rather than what they are told to teach from the idiots who run our educational system. There’s my rant from the other side………..

  • Sara

    My twins are in preschool. PRESCHOOL. One more year before kindergarten. Their teacher talked about their twice weekly homework during parent night and I’m thinking, shit no. So I talked to her about my familiy’s policy of NO FING HOMEWORK for 4 year olds since they are in preschool all day, 5 days a week, while I work. She kind of looked at me funny and said it was good prep for when they enter school. Umm, no. In the end she respected my decision and asked if I wanted read along books sent home every week. Sure, bring them on. But homework for 4 year olds during the 1.5 hours we have every night to do everything and get to bed? Just no.

    • Sarah

      Dude. My twins are in daycare (not even preschool) and we share a name 🙂 The “teachers” sent home a survey asking if parents would like worksheets to practice at home. I said no thank you.

      …guess who still gets worksheets sent home?

      They go directly in the trash. Honestly with the money being spent on wasted copies they could lower my childcare bill quite a lot.

  • Madelief Becherer

    I applaud your restraint during the paper parade (WTF is that about?) And this back to school night. I live in deep poverty to send my kids to a Waldorf School (really, all my fucking money for an education?!?) Going without things like tv, a reliable car, clothes without stains and holes so that my kids get an environment where they still get to be part of a system that values movement, art, individuality and fresh air……but it’s still a fucking system, and even in this soft and fluffy form of school I cringe at all the things. Homework fucking blows at all ages. My 14 y.o. daughter isn’t getting any wiser with homework, just stressed. I don’t even want her to do it. If she’s not at school either play outside, help make dinner (do the dishes, who am I kidding I can’t handle the mess of her making dinner), or play with your sister. Don’t come home from school and do fucking SCHOOLWORK!

    Accolades to you sister! For not totally loosing your shit on those teachers and parents (especially those parents). Oh, and I would totally have gotten your version of funny. We would have been in tears….first from the joke, then the reality. That’s what it’s all about bitches!!

  • Gretchen

    Back to school night – Catholic school, 8th grade, new math teacher. This guy is in his 60’s, first year of teaching because he’s been the CEO of an engineering firm for his whole life – he’s rattling off his impressive education including his PhD from Purdue….and I lean over to the Mom next to me and say “geez, you’d think that they could have found someone SMART!”. Blank stare. Crickets. Nada. I’m just glad I didn’t blurt it out to everyone, like I usually do!

    • Nicole

      I totally would have done that. Where do these humorless people come from? Sarcasm should be taught in school and worksheets sent home to reinforce it for hours every night.

  • Erika

    We are here and we love you!!!

  • Carrie

    And another reason I home school my kids. We are way to weird to be part of the system. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

    • Travis

      “They can never break you unless you let them!”

  • Agata

    Exactly!! I’m starting homeschooling next year. I’m scared af, but I keep telling myself that I can’t possibly screw my kid up too hard if I just let him love learning. Lining up by number though? Why?

  • Ellen

    oh my god just affirmed my love for you, janelle, once again. we are here, with you. i actually do want to change ALL of this so i’ll let you know if i get anywhere 🙂

    • Erin

      I’m one of your people!! We didn’t even make it to back to school night for my first grader because “I don’t really want to go,mom” and no way was I arguing with that. First grade homework is just ridiculous. Homework should be playing outside and eating dinner with your family and, oh I don’t know, being SIX. Gah. I would’ve laughed with you, just so you know.

  • Debra

    My license plate is “NUMBR6” and the license plate cover surrounding it is “I am not a number, I am a free man!” (You have seen The Prisoner, right? It’s so awesome if you haven’t.)

    My kindergartner has homework. KINDERGARTEN! This is madness!

  • Jessica

    Raising my hand to say I am out here. We are out here.

    After 1.5 years at the neighborhood high school, our daughter is now at our city’s alternative high school across town. Among other fantastic qualities, they have nearly eliminated homework for these kids. The class sizes are small (12-14 kids), and courses are focused in ways the students are more likely to respond and find application in their daily lives (e.g., neurology/biology class “The Science of Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n Roll”.) It feels like a godsend. Why can’t this be available everywhere?

  • Csmith

    12 years ago, before my kids were home schooled, my son would bring home 50 math problems every night. I would have him do the first ten and if I was sure he understood it we skipped the rest, and I sent the teacher a note explaining why. My authority pleasing son(don’t know where he got THAT from)was horrified, “But, I’ll get a bad grade!” I told him I didn’t care one bit about grades as long as he was trying to learn something every day. I’m pretty sure he finished up the problems on the bus anyway.

  • Sarah

    My 3 year old twins just brought home their first homework assignments from junior kindergarten, which involves finding an object that starts with the letter of the week, hiding it in a paper bag, and coming up with 3 clues that will help their classmates guess what is in the bag. And they have to actually remember the clues. They’re 3. They can’t remember to cover their mouths when they cough. And this repeats every week. This feels insurmountable to me at this point.

    • Jessica Gilkison

      “They can’t remember to cover their mouths when they cough” is my favorite thing on the internet today. And homework for three-year-olds is too ridiculous to even respond to. Gah.

    • Sarah

      That’s insanity!

      I am just commenting because I am also named Sarah, also have three year old twins. Solidarity.

  • Cherrill

    100% behind you on the homework. My kid is in 3rd grade now and she still barely gets homework other than spelling word lists. And that’s awesome. When she was in first grade, a friend posted a comment about how excited she was that her daughter’s kindergarten teacher was so amazing and the best part – no homework. I commented that I was grateful that we didn’t get any either and a mutual friend called us out on it and said we were “stuck up” for not liking homework. The f*ck does that even mean? Meanwhile her 6 year old was crying nightly over her hours worth of math homework. Yeah, okay whatever dude.

    • Nicole

      How in the hell does not liking homework make you stuck up? Did this person not get a good education and does not understand the meaning of “stuck up?”

  • Jessica

    You are my spirit animal.

  • Panda

    Keep one foot outside the lines so you dont forget who you are.
    Where were you when i was in school?!? This homework bullshit is …. Literal bullshit. Im with you all the way. What the fucking hell is a paper parade? The number thing is scary. Whats wrong with their names?

  • KatharineS

    I’m lucky enough to be sending my 5 & 8 yo kids to a Montessori school – I don’t think they’ve heard of the word “homework”! Which is the way it should be. It’s time for free play after school, any activities, plus whatever they need to do around the house (which I’m a bit slack on TBH) and music practice.

    Help measure out stuff for dinner preparations and work out how much pocket money you have left after a purchase – there’s your maths. Try to sound out the words on the labels of the lego drawers and be read to in bed (or read to herself for the 8 yo) – there’s your reading.

    My 8 yo loves workbooks (I did too at her age) and has a stack of them she can do whenever she wants – but that’s the thing, it’s for whenever she wants. Not to be done under duress while her brother is off testing out different paper plane characteristics.

    I suppose there’s something to be learned from the discipline of getting through something you don’t particularly want to do, but my god, they get plenty of that being kids!

  • Annie

    Omg that sentence about joining the PTA or just keep complaining about things on the side…. I’m dying … have that exact dilemma right now…. on the plus side my daughters 4th grade teacher told us on curriculum night that she might eliminate most homework because she wants the kids to want to be at school ???? There is hope! Keep that foot out of the line !

  • April

    Please don’t do what I did at your kid’s Casino Night PTA fundraiser and think it would be fun and silly to show a little front bra cleavage in the photo booth. We’d been gambling for a good cause and drinking our two drink maximum and I thought I’d make a sexy pic and discreetly hand it to my husband when I stepped out. When I pulled the curtain back and exited all excited to show my husband what I had made him, I saw the familiar look on his face of disdain and disbelief that he usually has when I’ve done something bad. He pointed to the giant Autotron 2600 Overview Screen (Yes, I will forever remember that namebrand)hanging over the not-so-amused PTA crowd as they all stared at my lovely satin Victoria’s Secret Bombshell. It was not a good start to the year.
    Later in the year, at the school Carnival, (no photo booths) a still-offended mother approached me, out of the blue, and admonished me in front of my children for being “disgusting.” I could have hung my head in shame, but no, I had to comment back at her “You wish your tits were as nice as mine!” Yeah. I have given my kids life and also ruined them socially, with my tits. (They ARE nice.)

    • Nicole

      Bahahaha! Can we be friends?

  • Rachel

    I’m right here! You can identify me by all the black I wear, my henna dyed hair and gray roots, my skeptically bemused expression, my vacillating between knowing everything and biting my tongue, and the pair of pins from Hot Topic on my purse (one a rainbow peace sign, the other a anti-possession symbol that pretty much just looks like a pentagram – yep, everyone thinks I’m a gay satanist, but really I’m just a bi Supernatural fan; my religion is Dean Winchester, bitches).

    My son is in kindergarten this year. I believe in unschooling (democratic schools, Sudbury Valley model, etc). I wanted to homeschool for several reasons. But I broke. I couldn’t do it. As a broke, single mother, that really really really needs time away from her child, I relented and did what I needed to do to get him into school. He seems to be doing fine.

    He has a monthly homework packet. It’s fun and basic stuff for the most part. But he’s already resisting it in the second month of school (good one, school system, make them hate it early, that’s effective and healthy).

    I’m going to try to be subversive AND supportive (of him and his interests) as possible.

    On a related note, I realized I want to teach 8th grade English, so now I’m figuring out how to get a single-subject teaching credential for English on top of my BA in Management and MA in Psychology and finally start something that is responsibly an actual career with retirement sooner than later. So my kid is in the system and I’m joining it too. Because I fuckin love that curriculum and I want to be subversive (fingers crossed that I don’t screw that up and remember when I really should just bite my tongue).

    What the fuck is a Paper Parade? I probably don’t want to know.

    ~ Rachel in NorCal

  • Susan

    My kid got Christmas break homework. In preschool. At 4 years old. Fuck that. I hope to find like minded parents at school, I usually look for the ones that are zoning out in the back, or rolling their eyes. They are hard to find that’s for sure.

    Also, please wrote a dystopia fiction, that would be awesome!

  • Carrie

    My #4 is in kindergarten and is devastated that her “homework” is done in class. This year our school decided that most kids don’t really know how to do homework independently, so in kindergarten each child has a “homework” folder in class and they have homework time each day, during which the teachers oversee and make sure they are able to complete it independently. That’s great because I’m a big believer that homework is a total waste of time. As long as they understand what’s being taught in class and we/they read every night, I pretty much leave them to do it on their own…and I’m not checking to make sure everything is done.
    My #3’s teachers hated me last year when he was in grade one and I told them flat out that I would never make him do homework in the three hours between the end of school and when he went to bed. Aren’t they in school long enough? I’m a high school teacher and the part of my job that I hate the most is the homework (although I know it’s part of the job)! Most people with 9-5 jobs would be resentful if their bosses expected them to go home and work for even one more hour! And we are adults. How can we expect our kids to do what we would hate?
    Rant over.
    I would have laughed. Your people are here.

  • Sandy

    This homework fanatic may be driven by fear she has around ensuring her pupils are ready for standardized tests. And someone is checking to make sure what their results are. Not that it makes it right. That number thing is nuts though. My oldest invented her own homework. Maybe your Georg will like it for awhile? I teach Drama at a secondary school. I let them play. They almost forget sometimes but not quite. We have to make sure there’s lots of opportunity to play at any age.

  • Elysium

    My oldest is only two, and I live on the opposite side of the country from you, but I agree with this hand signal thing. Fellow weirdo nihilist, you are not alone.

  • April

    I should not have posted that. what is front bra cleavage anyway? Is there back bra cleavage?

    • Nicole

      There is. But it’s not as pretty to look at. 😉

  • Laura

    I love you, Janelle. My oldest just started kindergarten and so far she loves it but still I find myself worrying about The State of Education Today and what The System will do to my wild, curious, tree-climbing Ramona Quimby of a girl. You manage to voice ally thoughts and fears in a hilarious, unique, articulate fashion. I feel comforted just knowing you exist. Keep up the good work!

  • julia

    Next time you should live stream it so we can laugh at your jokes/reality checks. I was at BTSN but missed everything they said because I was secretly taking pictures of the teachers and sending them to my bff. “Why is this guy wearing his dress pants so low?” “The Dad behind me just asked his wife what class we were in and even though I don’t know what he said, I heard him use the word geometry like seven times.” “I love this biology teacher’s hair, but I think I would look too mannish in it.” etc etc. “This clearly non-native spanish speaking teacher just introduced herself to the parents as Seniora Wynon, I feel like she’s about to give us homework.” “Uh oh, I just passed the AP that I had to fight with to get Jake’s schedule changed and she said, ‘I got your email; we’ll talk.’ so yikes I think I’m in trouble already.” Yes don’t let them count you like sheep! Keep one foot out hahahaha love it.

  • Cate

    Your people are *so* here. My friend sent me this because I was ranting about exactly all this shit yesterday. My youngest just started school and yesterday I went to a meeting for my eldest and the questions the parents are asking are insane. Basically boil down to: teachers, please could you do a bunch more work so we parents can do a bunch more work making our kids do everything they do all day at school over again on evenings and weekends? I wanted to scream “No! Leave the fucking kids alone!” Knowing we have each other is making me feel more gutsy to actually do it. (Maybe without the swearing.) Thank you.

  • Jennifer @ WrittenByJennifer

    My oldest just started kindergarten. The amount of fucking paper they send home is the worst…it strums my anxiety every afternoon. Like the school is saying “just checking to see if this thing is in tune.”

    But anyway…homework. We’re lucky. She gets one or two pages a night that we’re told should take no more than 10 minutes. If it takes longer than that we’re to stop and write a note and the teacher will chat with us to resolve the issue. I’m satisfied with the little bit of homework she gets because I’m re-learning all the basic concepts that I know I know but can’t remember how to explain and now there’s a new way of doing math so I need to learn that too.

    I’m hearing horror stories from friends in other schools though. One friend told our group of the HOUR of homework per night her five year is assigned. AN HOUR. Sixty minutes! Ignoring for the moment all the research that says homework has no bearing on a student’s success, how does this teacher expect working parents to fit this hour of homework into their lives and still get the kid to bed before midnight?

  • Kel

    As a former teacher, I am full agreement with the “homework is bullshit” thing. I did assign a little bit as reinforcement here and there, but absolutely nothing strenuous, nothing that took them hours, etc. (I taught middle school, self-contained special ed.)

    The one thing I will voice my disagreement on is the lining up. I absolutely get that your kid should not be a number, and I think writing her number after her name *is* a bit over the top. But please consider this one from the side of a teacher who has Been There and Done That.

    Lining up is actually something that is absolutely vital for young kids. They must know how to do it quickly and properly for their own safety, and no, I am not exaggerating. I have been in the following situations at school: a fire requiring full school evacuation to the football field for 2 hrs; an armed person on campus; a tornado that touched down a mile away.

    Please understand that when I require your kid to line up fast and silently, it is because I am trying to protect their lives. Because in the tornado? I had one student with behavioral issues who slipped out and went the other way around the school because he wanted to “see the wind”. I noticed immediately because he wasn’t in line. Do you have ANY idea what could’ve happened if I hadn’t caught it? His parents, would have had my ass as well as my job, and rightfully so, as it IS my job to keep the kids safe…even when they are occasionally being defiant assholes.

    So yeah. I’m with you on literally everything except that. Because too much shit happens in schools these days, and with class sizes of 25-30 kids, teachers still have to account for every kid.

  • Heather

    THIS IS EVERYTHING!!! I feel exactly the same way!! I am your people my friend!! I have always considered my self something of an anarchist that existentially believes in nihilism with a side of egalitarianism… I mean…if I had to put a label on it!! 😉 I have felt this way every single year I drop my kids off on the first day of school. I spend the whole day trying to figure out how I can teach these people without having to drop them off at the “drone camp!” I just can’t seem to find enough courage within myself and end up telling myself that the experience will be good for them! If I only had a bit more confidence that I could teach them things like Calculus.. ( I never made it out of pre-algebra myself)… so you see my dilemma! Anyway… thank you for writing exactly how I feel! It really does make me feel better to know I am not alone in this.

  • Stu

    I stand with you! I posted a blog, like, two hours ago about all the things I hate about ‘back-to-school’, and all the parents that I guess I’m dissing are chiming in, not amused. whoops/oh well!

    Love the writing, keep up the good work!

  • Lisa

    My 5 yr old will not be having homework this year. Unless it’s fun stuff. She was assigned to ‘Forest Kindergarten” in our local elementary. I had no idea what it was. She came home from the 1st day of school and said she had grass class that day. I almost fell off my chair. Then I figured out that meant they had class sitting on the grass outside. I think we’re going to have a fun year.

    But I’m all in on that hand gesture. Perhaps it could mimic drinking, and tie in with “Jack Daniels” I’m always looking for my fellow Jack friends, who also need a way out.

  • Rebecca

    Have I told you lately that I love you??? Seriously. You speak for many of us nihilists. xoxo

  • Natalie

    Here’s the thing. I surrendered to the inevitability of homework when my son was in Kinder last year. Whatever. He learned to read and write and sit down and listen in a matter of months. Since my kids don’t listen to a fucking thing I say, this never would have come to pass in my home or unschooling. Literacy is good. Eventually I’ll learn the lingo of common core math. Or not. And I’ll bitch about it, but never forget that it’s free. And I get to be alone a few hours a day.

  • Cheryl S.

    We’re out here, I promise. I love: “Keep one foot out of line. . .” YES!!!
    In the dystopian present (for me) that is 6th grade, my daughter has to wait for an escort (school personnel) to go to the bathroom (or do anything else that involves leaving class.)

    Well my little sunshine sometimes has panic attacks (FUCK Anxiety). She knew she was going to lose it and she just BOLTED out of the classroom. I was thrilled.

    Then, her friend told her they couldn’t go see the list of people who made the cheerleading team. My daughter asked why. Her friend said they weren’t allowed. My daughter’s answer: “If I’m not allowed, someone will stop me!” and away she went.

    One small act of defiance at a time. . . . .

    • Sue

      I Love your “Little Sunshine”… She will survive the mental hell prison of “school” in fine shape, she knows what’s what, and I am thrilled to see that some kids still have the spirit, and common sense, and are capable of independent thinking that all kids Should have. “School” tries it’s best to pound those things out of them, but kids like yours are tough and a Great example to all the rest of the kids. GOOD FOR Sunshine!
      Keep on being yourself, and don’t let ANYONE tell you what you are “allowed, or Not allowed” to do when it is such a ridiculous Control Issue rule.
      Go Sunshine!!

  • Christine

    Please let me know what the hand signal is, though I may have an idea.

  • Nicole

    3 things: 1) HEY, hi! Fellow weirdo nihilist here. 2) I would read the fuck out of your dystopian novel. And C) (because fuck rules!) “Smiling to mask my utter fear of them” is pretty much my personal version of resting bitch face.

  • Marie

    I found myself labelled as a “problem mother” early on during my daughter’s kindergarten year because I was opposed to the idea of mandatory full-day kindy. In my mind, kindergarten is supposed to be a transition year, and I felt strongly that my daughter was not ready to go to school full-time. So, I argued my case and kept her home from school every Friday (and on select other days when the weather was so beautiful that we needed to spend the day outside, or if she was really tired and needed a home day). The teacher didn’t like it (worried that it would impact my daughter’s academic development – seriously, in kindergarten?). My only worry was that the teacher would treat my daughter differently, but we talked about it, and I don’t think it was an issue. I had friends who did the same modified-schedule thing, and encouraged me to do what was best for my daughter, so at least I wasn’t alone.

    Grade one is looking a bit easier – it’s the same teacher as last year, so she knows what to expect from me;-). Homework in grade one is optional, so I’m going to leave it up to my daughter whether she wants to do it or not. All in all, I know we’re lucky with our school – 10 kids in the class, art, dance, free play time – and kids not assigned numbers (god, I would be horrified by that, too). And the school is in a forest, so the kids spend 45 minutes a day outside playing and building forts. My plan this year is to try to fly under the radar, and quietly make things work for us schedule- and homework-wise.

  • Sarah

    Jack Daniels!

    • Laia

      Exactly! Jack Daniels was the signal, right?
      God…In a few years, I will be you, then I’ll remember this post and feel better.

  • Desiree

    My son hates lining up. He is 10. His new teacher told them to shut up when they were laughing. He also gets only 20 minutes and for their punishments its taking away recess. I agree. WTF. That is the time they can let lose. They keep saying its preparing for middle school. My daughter is in 8th grade and guess what, she has NO homework. My son gets so much homework he has to do some nightly every day! and for my anxiety ridden son it ruins everyday. He is constantly worrying about it.
    I hear you. You are not alone.

  • Amy

    My oldest is in 1st grade this year and they have homework which just pisses me off cause who has to remember to do the homework and turn it in on time? Me, that’s who. Its a monthly homework assignment and he has to pick 15 of the 20 boxes and do them in a homework journal that must be turned in at the end of the month. And I know that it will be forgotten every month. AND I’m a bit upset at this teacher because she doesn’t want to email the parents her newsletter each week, she wants us to go on our child’s e-class webpage which means I’m supposed to memorize his log-in (which is some random 12 digit #) and password AND she emails to tell us to check it AND it hasn’t been on the website for 2 weeks out of 3. Just e-mail me the f-ing newsletter!

  • Beth

    As usual – you are speaking directly into my soul… The school events give me such anxiety. I feel like it’s a room full of parents (really, mostly moms) all trying to be someone they’re not to show off for each other. To steal a term from another author – we are all sending our Representatives into the classrooms rather than our real selves. I have finally, at the tender age of 37, learned when to keep my mouth shut. The comments that I would love to make – similar to yours – are usually not funny to the other Representatives. Then I feel stupid and anxious. I attended one PTO meeting and instantly knew they were not my people. And the homework! My son’s second grade teacher announced proudly at our back to school night that they would not have regular homework assignments and I almost cheered out loud. With 2 parents working full time he barely has time to play at home let alone spend time with us. So no homework is a blessing! My ADHD brain has a hard enough time remembering what I’m supposed to do let alone remembering what he’s supposed to do for school. So take this as my very long-winded thank you for writing. Please never stop!

  • Alex

    Get your ass to Finland. Now.

  • Audrey

    Can I just say that I love you and you are amazing and this is officially the best thing I’ve ever read.

    I got Jackson into a school where they do none of those shenanigans and as I was sitting at curriculum night last night I realized oh, this is why it costs 40 fucking thousand dollars to send my kid here. fortunately we got scholarship but goddamn is this what you have to do? every child deserves to not be a fucking number and it pisses me the hell of that our society can’t get it together and create curriculums according the RESEARCH that says that our kids need to play and socialize and create and have fun and learn experientially.

    why are we so slow??

  • Jill

    My town’s elementary school did away with homework this year, except for one night a week for fourth graders. I cried with joy! I have four kids and homework was consuming us. Hopefully the trend spreads west for you! ????????

  • Laura Angell

    My 3 year old uses the same phrase “you’re my best”. We must have brilliant children 🙂 thanks for keeping it real.

    • Betty

      My daughter used to say “You’re my best” too! So now we all say it, even though she’s now 17.

  • Betty

    Waldorf School. No homework for littles, lots of art and music and play every day.