Dear Teachers, About Your Back-to-School Parent Survey

The dreaded first-day-of-school paperwork pile gets thicker every year. The "parent survey" is only bested by the emergency medical form for Worst Homework Ever. My kid is pretty typical, but I always feel torn about whether to pump him up on these forms so teachers are dazzled immediately, or to dump on him so the expectations are lower and he'll amaze them with his okay-ness. What are they looking for? Are they judging my bad handwriting and grammatical errors? How much information is too much information? Will they think I'm a crap mom if I simply cross out the questions and write "one less paper to read - you're welcome!" I'm going to try being real this year and hope no one calls children's services over it. I might even ask for his input.

What is your child good at?  He's the best at sarcasm, dry wit and making others feel inferior with a single eye-roll. He can say "awesome" like a 90's kid and making you believe it. Pretty sure he could rock the grunge look from the same era, considering his lackluster hygiene practices, but I haven't bought him any Dr. Martins to make it real. Also, "vanquishing plants and finding llamas," according to him.

What does he/she love to do?  The above mentioned llama-vanquishing and plant finding or whatever. He's carving out a small butt shape on his side of the couch. It's really coming along - almost completely formed after summer break. He can multi-task, too. He's usually talking to yelling with his friends via bulky gaming equipment while he's cushion-sculpting.

What are things with which he/she struggles?   Well, face-to-face interactions seem to really booger him up. Don't expect him to look you in the eye during lecture. He is probably reading a comic book under his desk instead of listening to your lesson. He won't raise his hand with any answers and he will give you the special death stare if you call on him anyway. No worries - he's kind of a slacker, so he won't follow through on facially conveyed threats.

How can we help?   He asked about the likelihood of canceling school in favor of all-day video games.  Otherwise, can we just give up on the whole homework concept? It's such a fight - I'm a terrible mother because I won't do it for him, when his friend's mom always helps him! (We all know what "help" means - and I am not "helpful." I failed enough of my own homework when I was 13. I am not touching it again). We are spending three hours screaming "DO YOUR HOMEWORK!" and "I DON'T WANT TO!" over a ten-minute assignment. This is seriously cutting into our quality "BRUSH YOUR TEETH!"..."BUT I DON'T CARE IF THEY'RE YELLOW!" evening argument time.

Is there anything else we should know?   He has been asked not to repeat words he hears at home, but we don't make guarantees. He had some trouble waking up this morning, so maybe look out for a caffeine crash around noon. We don't always make it to the Kroger on Sundays, so if you see him pulling cold pizza squares or a sleeve of Saltines out of his lunch bag, just know he's not going to be performing at the top of his class that afternoon.

It's the first day of school. This is our A-game. Enjoy this beginning-of-the-year communication high. Things will deteriorate as the year progresses.  Come January, we will be hard pressed to brush our hair or match our socks, let alone explain this kid's expanding list of oddities or remember to pack new pencils. However, you are appreciated now, and will continue to be appreciated as we muddle through the next 9 months of disorganized slush. Imagine how bad this could get, if not for you!


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