It’s back to school time, and each year I feel the same way: overwhelmed, excited and overwhelmed. There is always a new schedule to learn, additional rules to follow, and more stuff to do.
And the learning curve never seems to get any easier for me. Each year I spend hours trying to get registered on some school’s web site, accumulate supplies and clone myself so I can be on that conference call, at that school meeting and in the car pool — all at the same time.
After a decade of parenting experience, you’d think I’d have it down by now. But I don’t. Not even close.
And in my darkest hours of self-loathing for my parenting failures — like when I sent in blue index cards instead of yellow or when I can’t get the left eye to stay on for my daughter’s book report on Abraham Lincoln — I often think of all the wasted time I spent in college. The hours taking electives that I never used, such as Softball and Theater 101, and “required” classes that were supposed to make me well-rounded (beyond the freshman 15 I gained), such as anthropology, geology and what I refer to as “Kill-Me-Now Calculus.”
Seriously, if college educators really wanted us to be successful in life, they’d change their course offerings pronto. I’m even thinking of starting one of those new distance learning colleges…Playdates University anyone?
Why not teach the basics of the important parenting stuff when our brains are still fresh — before sleep deprivation and caffeine addictions take away our ability to focus on simple tasks? Before we consider a trip to the grocery store a date? Before our children suck our brains dry? Where were the classes that would help us out in real life, like at PTO meetings, parent-teacher conferences and baseball sign ups?
If I could go back in time, here’s some classes I’d like to put on my academic roster:
+ Scheduling 101. Seriously, has there ever been anything more challenging than managing the schedule of our kids’ activities? Add in parents that travel, family obligations and a occasional night out, and the family schedule starts looking like something out of the Matrix.
+ Crafts for Beginners. My poor kids. I am craft-impaired, but maybe, just maybe if someone taught me the basics of how to use a glue-gun, fabric and glitter, I wouldn’t get eye rolls from my eight-year old on the rare occasions we sit down to craft. I might even want to help make a Valentine’s Day box one day.
+ Negotiating to Win. I have actually seen parents who aced negotiation classes at prestigious business schools brought to tears during a discussion with a three-year old about going to the potty before they got in the car. While I certainly don’t believe in negotiating with kid terrorists, let’s be honest, there are times when you just can’t get around it. I personally could have used the lectures: “How to Get Your Kid to Wear Her Coat during a Polar Vortex” or “How Much Bribery is Okay to Get Your Kid to Stop Being a Nose-Picker.” Hypothetically speaking of course.
+ Statistics for Parents. I took statistics in college. I even got an A. What would be useful, however, is being able to calculate the probability of your child getting this stomach flu during the winter. Or better yet, based on the fact that 17 children in school have lice, and my daughter was in the classroom with eight of those children for 73 percent of the time, what is the likelihood I will have to wash everything in my house over the weekend. Those are skills I can use.
+ Meal Planning for Today, Tomorrow & Beyond. Can you even begin to rationalize how much time we have spent planning meals? Roughly speaking, I’m guessing I have to plan, shop and cook dinner about 300 times each year. That’s 3,000 meals the past decade (not counting lunch or breakfasts.) I can’t count the hours I’ve spent searching on websites, combing through cookbooks, and begging friends for their latest crock pot favorites; yet even having thousands of recipes right at our fingertips, when 5 p.m. rolls around I still say, “Hmmm, what should we have for dinner?” Meal planning would be an 8 a.m. class I wouldn’t have skipped.
What kind of classes do you wish they offered in college?