Wrapping up the summer can be bittersweet as we count down the days. Most parents are ready to get their kids out of the house for a multitude of reasons. Ready for routine, ready to stop cobbling together day care, and ready to stop the sibling fighting.
The child care scramble is especially difficult the last few weeks of summer as camps aren’t offered. Parents turn to all manner of solutions for this dilemma — commonly, grandparents get pulled in as reinforcements. Many chose to plan their vacations in August to avoid anticipated smoke and to tackle the child care dilemma. Thankfully, the pool extended its season by a week, offering someplace for antsy kids.
It’s totally normal for siblings to fight, but summer squabbles can be maddening with weeks on end together. As they compete with each other for toys or attention, disagreements turn to arguments and fists start flying. Not all parents handle sibling fighting in the same way. Spouses have different tolerance levels for what’s acceptable, but experts say the best way to handle the fighting is basically not to intervene. That is of course easier said than done, when the incessant “Mawwwwwm” echoes from the other room repeatedly. Blessed be the teachers who will soon take this problem off our shoulders.
Back-to-school routines include a few preparations, but thanks to the Methow Valley School District “Equity and Excellence for All” policy, it makes the back-to-school ritual of buying paper, pencils, pens, binders, etc., non-existent. I remember pursuing the shelves at the local drug store each August in hopes of finding the perfect binder, sets of pencils and spiral notebooks. It’s a fond memory, eliciting the excitement of the new year, but I was always envious of the kids who showed up to school with the fanciest, newest Trapper-keeper with insignias of pop stars or cartoons, decorative pencils and scented colored pens, supply pouches with colored scissors and glue sticks that weren’t required, and those Hello Kitty erasers. In a way, it was a kind of competition — what kind of binder a kid had held curiosity and envy, creating obvious social divides.
Even though my family probably could have afforded it, my mom was a no-fuss type of parent who had to buy supplies for five kids, so we didn’t get the fancy padded Velcro/zipper binders, unrequired supplies, or smelly pens. I had a fresh Peachie, different-colored lined spiral notebooks for each class, a simple white three-ring binder, a fresh pack of Yellow No. 5 pencils, and a few Bic pens. I remember the kids who didn’t have anything new, arriving on the first day empty-handed or maybe with a ratty old folder from last year, a broken pencil with no eraser. It’s that type of inequity that the district’s policy has leveled the playing field to address, and I am proud our district made this a priority.
Let’s not perpetuate more competition between peers by playing it out with school supplies. Kids have enough to compete over — sports, grades, clothing brands, arts and crafts, hobbies and now, like no other generation before , the ongoing battle of cellphones and tablets and their associated social networks and gaming apps that hold the crown prize for the haves and have-nots.
The district’s policy on phones and tablets is that they are allowed, but are “to be turned off during instructional time unless teacher permission is granted.” In my opinion, I would be more comfortable with a “no personal device” policy on the bus and at school in the grade school years. I know not all parents or teachers agree, but like warm summer days, technology-free time in our children’s lives is numbered, and I would welcome and support holding onto the few opportunities where they can be free from its addictive grasp.