Parents Beware: The First Week Back is Weird

Leslie Kennedy September 6, 2016

Ah, the new school year. Filled with anticipation and excitement. New teachers. New classmates. Seeing old friends. So much fun! Yay!

Except, we veterans who have done this before know what else to expect. Those of you who don’t: allow me to warn you about what you are going to experience during your child’s first week of school. Those of us who have been there before are already bracing ourselves.

You see, while the first weeks of school might be filled with a bunch of unknowns (will they like school? Their new teacher? Will they adjust to their new routine?), there is one thing that you can pretty much bank on. Your kid, even the sweetest kid, is going to be a real jerk.

I’m sorry, but it’s going to happen. It’s not just me. When I’ve complained to friends about it they always concur with a resounding, ‘OMG! ME TOO! WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF IS UP WITH THE ATTITUDE?’

The first weeks of school are a certain slice of hell. It could be that they’re a year older and feel more important and mature. It could be that their friends are influencing them. Or, it could just be that they are picking this particular time to test out whether or not a new year means new rules and a new tolerance for jerky behaviour.

The sass that came home from my daughter’s first year of JK was epic. She was five. FIVE, but I swear she sounded like a teenager. The first time she mouthed back I was so dumbfounded that I just stared at her. Did that sass just come from her mouth?

Last year, when she was in Grade 1 and my son was in JK, my mother-in-law, who has the patience of a saint, came over to visit on the first Friday of school. Halfway through the evening she looked at me with wide eyes and just said ‘wow’. I was like, ‘I know. I. Know.’

My usually happy, loving son was a lovely combo of anger, hostility and drama, and I swear, at one point during a meltdown my daughter’s head turned around 360 degrees. It was amazing. Except that it was totally not at all amazing.

I feel like I’d be doing a disservice to not warn you all that this week, your sweet little angels who you walked to school on their first day, who you felt sentimental about walking away from as they ventured out onto their next stage of life, are going to come home with a whole lot of ‘tude.

If you’re a wine drinker, I highly recommend stocking up. If you’re not, let me recommend pre-registering for yoga classes and meditation podcasts (do those exist? They must exist!). It will get better, but batten down the hatches. The next few weeks are probably gonna suck.

They will be tired. They will be adjusting to a new teacher, new expectations, a new sense of responsibility, new friends, new influences, new schedules, new stresses and a newly restored desire to see how they can use those factors to justify new behaviour.

We parents approach this time of year with so much anticipation and expectation. Some of us have nerves about sending our kids off to a new year, and others of us can’t get them there fast enough (*raises hand.* I am so done with summer!). But there are precious few of us who will end this first week of school without wanting to run away and join the circus. It’s going to be a gong show, fellow parents. Be prepared. This week is gonna be no fun. It will get better as we adjust to our new new. But, rest assured, this week will leave all of us wondering if our children were switched with evil twins.

On the one hand, I’m totally sorry for being the bearer of bad news. But, on the other hand, I feel like it’s better to know, when your kid’s head is doing full circles and you’re wondering what the hell happened to your perfect baby, that it’s not just you. It’s a parental rite of passage to get through the first weeks of school and it’s something we all have the pleasure of dealing with.

Good luck and God speed.

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