Back To Skool

Posted: September 8, 2013 in Community, Family, Humour
Tags: , , , , , , ,


As I am writing this, my kids and wife Anne are preparing their ‘back to school’ items. It’s a little like watching a platoon of Marines preparing to go out on patrol from their bivouac. Even my dogs are getting involved, sniffing through the various packages and containers, hoping against all hope that there is a snack or two left out in error that they can score.

The average Canadian family is going to spend $488 on back-to-school items this year. Remember that word: average. There are those spending less, those spending more, but $488 is the average. But with one kid in high school, one in college, and a wife who teaches and feeds voracious high school kids who have bottomless stomachs, you can throw that $488 average right out the window.

This is going to sound like one of those ‘when I was a kid’ comments, but when I was a kid, things were vastly different. First of all: back packs. These were used by people who went on hikes or back-packing through Europe for summer. If you used one for school, there were consequences, none of them pleasant. Now, the pack-sack industry is alive and well. It’s amazing, really. When Mackie was done packing his, I asked him to unpack it in front of me to see what was in there. It was like watching a circus clown-car empty out in front of me. I now call him Harry Potter, it was so magical. Of course, he and most other kids are going to require a truss for their backs by their early thirties.

Next: school supplies in general. When I was a kid, these were for the most part supplied by the schools. Now, there are far less kids going to school, but hardly any supplies provided. I realize that these supplies are expensive, and cannot be provided by the schools. But I would lay money on the fact that most of the stuff we buy for the kids will never be used, or will be used in ways we did not intend. In a time where companies are pushing ‘paperless’ ways, perhaps it’s time to go paperless for our kids. Not to mention that there are so many who just cannot afford these items, and wasting them is much more of a crime.

Next item: clothing. One of our kids goes to a school that is all uniforms. We prefer that because the choices in the morning are much more refined. And at school, the kids are dressed similarly (there is a wide variety of combinations for the uniforms, so there is individuality still). The problem is that, at that age, they grow like weeds. Mackie has grown 6-8” in the last year. So uniforms, while handy, need to be replaced twice a year. When I was a kid, we had hand-me-downs, and nobody cared. Of course, my hand-me-downs came mostly from my sister Barb, so I got laughed at a wee bit (especially when I wore that short green dress).

Finally: technology. Today’s kids are wired into everything. They all have smart phones, take pictures seemingly by the thousands, text, tweet, and Facebook. When I was a kid, Facebook meant you were hit in the face with a book. Text meant ‘open your book and read the text’. And if you tweeted, you were sent to the office for whistling in class. We took notes, not pictures of notes. I gave a kid a pencil the other day: he looked at it with a puzzled look and then used it to open a package with. A lap top in my day was where you kept your hands to be polite, or to stop fidgeting.

With all this, I can see the challenges faced by students and teachers alike. Back to school can be cool, but it can also be very stressful. It’s a huge change in routine. So drive safely in the next while, watch out for the flashing lights on school buses, and take a little more time with everyone in general.

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