Our View: Back-to-School Rules

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While we’re still enjoying the continuous blue skies and extended daylight of late summer, the truth is that fall – and all the activities this fan-favorite season ushers in – is upon us. Backpacks are back in action and lunches are reluctantly packed every day.
There is so much excitement as fall approaches. We can do things like meet our teachers on back-to-school nights, watch the leaves change, adorn our homes with spooky decorations, head to an apple orchard, or offset the chill in the air with an evening bonfire or a pumpkin spice latte.
As we transition into our new fall routines and schedules, here are our top 5 Smartboard (or chalkboard, if you’re old school) lessons for the week:
* School Supplies – In addition to our valiant attempts to keep Staples and Target in the dark with our newly purchased school supplies, we’re reminding you of an opportunity to pay it to your child’s teachers: throw in a gift card for them, if you have the chance to do a little more beyond school supplies. We all know they spend their own money on their classrooms, so this is a great way to show your family’s gratitude to them.
This lesson also involves an extra credit: go meet your teachers in person. Take advantage of back-to-school evenings to shake hands with a teacher and get to know them outside of sending emails if you have a problem. Teachers put their hearts into their work and getting to know them is a great way to start a respectful relationship that supports their efforts in the classroom. Plus, we all know how fun it is to sit at a tiny desk in front of the class and reminisce about the good old days.
* Put the “fun” into fundraisers – Sometimes the sheer amount of “requests” from sports teams, drama clubs, choirs, and PTOs for the new season can seem overwhelming and sometimes downright cringeworthy. But take a deep breath and think how lucky we are here at Grosse Pointe to have some of the best kids programs possible. Of course, not all of us can give to all causes. And to be honest, some of the fundraising has gotten out of control. But we suggest setting an intentional fundraising budget and donating what you can. Be sure to do so with a smile for the cute student holding the donation form. These children are our pride, our joy and our future. Let’s do what we can when we can.
* Drive Safely — We’re all in a rush because we’re all busy and what we need to accomplish is definitely important. But our zeal for “my rush is more important than yours,” especially at pick-up and drop-off times, is up for debate. Rudeness and disrespect to other drivers, who are also our neighbors, let’s remember, are just bad moods. Take a deep breath and, as Kramer advised on “Seinfeld,” say “serenity now” as you exhale. By the time you’re out of breath, the time limit will likely have passed. Or at least it should have (and we’re talking to you, Charlie Cello or Lacrosse Lucy. We know it’s a drag to drag this stuff around, but some efficiency in the daily filing routine is much appreciated.) on a very serious Note, please drive with your phones down and your eyes up. Seriously.
* Teach your children well – A short and sweet conversation with your children and with yourself about how we treat others can go a long way. Most of us have vivid memories of bad guys and how they tried to crush our souls in school. So let’s all do our part at home to stop it before it starts. Or at least be responsible and fix it when/if it does. School is tough enough for most without a petty environment added to the mix.
* Cherish the change of season in town – Once the days at the beach are over and the long weeks of work and school are over, it can be so easy to just lay on the couch for the whole weekend . We recommend that you commit to getting out and experiencing something in our community. Head to one of the high school football games and feel the nostalgia. Go on a walk to collect leaves with your little ones. Take the famous “porch photos” of them in their “first day of school” outfits that they chose for a month. Browse one of the city’s great boutiques, try a new restaurant, or meet a friend you haven’t seen in all summer for a coffee and a chat.
It’s unofficially fall, y’all. Let’s do whatever it can be.

Martha K. Merrill