Unsharpened Office Depot Pencils (and other changes I’ve made this school year)

Dear Teachers, Administrators and Fellow Parents:

I love you.

Treasure you.

Think you hung the moon.

Am confident that we have the hardest job ever known to humanity:

Raising and educating children.

I have never met a one of you I couldn’t stand to be around, teachers, principals—heck—even some of you crazy moms.

Seriously. I can find the good in anyone, from the mom hanging a cig out of the window at carpool (possibly my mother), to the June Cleaver hanging wreaths on all the entryways (also Mama, but minus June and with the cig and a few f-bombs).

Truth time: There are a few things about the school year I can’t stand.

And this year I’ve decided that for the sake of my sanity, and for the safety of my children due to a lack of said sanity, I’m going to have to make some changes.

Let a few things go.

Put my foot down here and there.

And I’m starting with those expensive pencils.

You know, the Ticonderogas.

I’m sure they’re fabulous.

I bet they write like newly-shaved legs on a fresh bed of silk sheets.

But they are freaking expensive.

Crazy expensive. I’m pretty sure I could buy my children’s lunches for a month and still come out cheaper than a few boxes of those pencils.

Are Ticonderogas that big of a deal? Are they made from trees of gold? Is the lead full of crushed diamonds? It makes no sense.

And because I find no common sense in paying big cheese for the twenty boxes of pencils you’re asking my children to bring to school this year, I’m sorry, but they will be arriving with a fresh pack of unsharpened Office Depot Pencils.

Just kidding. I plan to sharpen them for you because I care about your sanity too.

But seriously, cheap pencils. And ditto for the rest of the school supplies, and a few other items too, such as new or fancy clothing. (This year’s fashion theme is Cat and Jack from Target. No shame.)

A few other changes I plan to make this year:

  • Helping with homework

I’ve heard teachers have no control over how much homework they give. I’m not entirely sure how true this is, but here’s what I do know:

I don’t have time to help my children with it.

I hate we live in a world where I’m now forced to care about where my children are and what they are doing at all times, but sadly, these are the cards we’ve been dealt.

As a result, I have to focus efforts on making sure my children are busy, busy, busy. Idle hands are the Devil’s playground, or whatever they say.

And if and when I work a full-time job, I will arrive home from work to finish chores. Toilets don’t clean themselves.

As a consequence, I’m sorry, but I can’t help Bear and Nims with multiple pages of homework. Just can’t. Don’t have time; don’t have energy.

And as much as I’d love to say they’ll get it on their own, sometimes they won’t.

So I will ask them to do it once. I will hope they listen, and I will encourage them to do their best.

I’ll let you handle the rest.

  • Extravagant teacher gifts

I think you deserve the well-earned reward of a much higher paycheck, and if the government wanted to raise my taxes to provide that, I’d be all for it.

I think you deserve the luncheons provided you, a wonderful Christmas gift, and I’ll even celebrate you on your birthday, because you. are. worth. it. (And definitely at the end of the year. I will probably bow down to you in gratitude for sticking with it.)

But I kid you not, in the last few years, I’ve seen teachers get Halloween gifts. (Orange candles?) I’ve seen them get Mother’s Day gifts from children who clearly were not related to them in blood or name. I swear I even saw one sweet lady get a Father’s Day gift (kidding—but you get my point).

I’m sorry, but with four kids and upwards of twenty teachers, I can’t. Santa is doing phenomenal to make Christmas a success at this house; so while I love you and think you deserve the world, I can’t buy you a $20 candle or $40 pedicure just because. (But please know I really do think you deserve it! 🙂 )

Along those same lines, my child will never step his big toe into the school with a treat bag or anything that has ribbons or a cute Pinterest saying attached.

  • PTO joining and excessive volunteering

Gosh, I love my mom friends who hold a passion for being at their children’s schools 24/7.

I don’t mean that as a joke. I’m in awe of what they contribute to my child’s school experience.

Often it’s their work that sends my children home, excited to repeat this fun activity or that one. Memories given by the hard work of parent volunteers make me truly thankful to live in such a phenomenal town.

There’s a not-so-great side too, and I hate when we pretend it doesn’t exist.

PTO volunteering can turn into a social entity that causes strife and wreaks havoc on friendships and good intentions.

I’ve seen it happen, and it’s ugly.

I consider myself lucky. I’m not one to grace my children’s school doors more than a few times a year because God didn’t bless me with the spiritual gift of school volunteering.

He also broke my give-a-care about social status; so know that if you ask me to help, sweet mom, and I willingly volunteer without an eye roll or a not no but heavens no, it’s because I truly want to do some good for the school.

(Just not too much good, if you catch my drift. In other words, don’t put me on a committee or send me a group email and we’ll be fine.)

  • Random spend the nights and play dates

This is also for my fellow parent friends and a huge change from years past.

You know how there are some unwritten cultural norms that people just follow, and even if you feel a little strange about doing them, you feel even stranger if you don’t do them, so you go with the flow—but never quite feel right about it?

That’s how I’ve always felt about my kids spending the night with your kids.

Nothing against you at all. Your family is not strange (although your child might not say the same if he spent the night at our house). And I’ll admit there are a handful of you I trust like family.

But the random invite to spend the night at some family’s house I’ve met a total of once or twice just isn’t gonna fly around here anymore.

For one, I’ve always thought spending the night with other families was strange. I mean, the only kind of spend the night parties we have as adults aren’t PG. Something about my kid waking up and seeing you in your pj’s strikes me as odd.

And two, I’ve watched a few too many Datelines, 20/20s and Unsolved Mysteries. My brain is wired to worry about whether or not you got some sorta creepy skeletons hanging in your closet.

So sorry, but this year, the spend the nights aren’t gonna happen, although I welcome the occasional play date. (As long as it’s at your house, not mine. Just joking! Biggie has only bitten one person. Your child should be fine.)

I hope these changes won’t offend you, but this mama’s on year thirteen of schooling, and I’m too exhausted to care and seriously needing a year of rest.

I’m sorry I can’t give you a bunch of expensive supplies, fancy gifts, or homemade brownies and crafts. I’m sorry my kids might not always have their homework done completely or correctly.

And I’m sorry, moms, if I don’t always help at school. I’m sorry if I feel slightly weirded out by my kids sleeping all night at your house.

I simply can’t keep allowing my kids to do activities I’m uncomfortable with.

I can’t keep giving what I don’t have.

But here’s what I can give you:

  • A kind child

I promise to teach my children to be kind to all. I promise to quickly catch and reprimand them if and when I see them behaving craptastic, as many kids are prone to do.

I vow to never believe my child is incapable of wrong, the epitome of perfection, or anywhere close to either.

  • A strong child

I promise I will build up my kids at home so they feel capable of accomplishing their tasks at school.

You might need to work with my child on reading. You will never have to convince him he can achieve a goal because he doesn’t believe enough in himself.

You may have to work with my daughter on arithmetic, but you will never have to work on her self-esteem. (Actually, a couple of self esteems over here you might wanna knock down a notch.)

  • A praying child

When we first moved to Oxford a little over five years ago, we started a tradition of saying the Lord’s Prayer every morning on our way to school, followed by a quick prayer of safety over my babies’ schools, their teachers, and the students.

I pray for each of my children to be a light that points others to Jesus. This won’t always happen. Their mother is not always an angelic light that points others to Christ. (I’m quite confident Clayford has called me the opposite a time or two.)

But in daily words and actions, in being kind to and loving others, in being good kids, I pray a bright light shines through them.

And honestly, I’m not sorry about any of the changes I’ve made this year.

Mamas, teachers, administrators, volunteers—we’re all just doing the best we can, and sometimes we gotta forge our own path, make our own way, live our own truth, and try a new thing.

So, #sorrynotsorry, teachers, but when I show up with the Office Depot Pencils, just be thankful I sharpened them and know I’m praying for you, your administration, and all my fellow moms to have a great year…

Although I probably will talk about you behind your back depending on the amount of homework you give.


Kinda. 😉

when the teacher runs out of pencils, you compromise

Update: Apparently, Ticonderoga pencils ARE made from trees of gold and crushed diamonds, and actually DO write like newly-shaved legs on fresh silk sheets. Guess I’ll be forking out that dough after all. If you see me on the corner of Murray and Sisk Streets, just don’t ask questions. 😉 




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