On your mark, get set, go!

Back to School Night seems straightforward. You head to your child’s school to catch a glimpse of her teachers and to gain a sense of her classes.

Surprise! It’s actually a whirlwind, communal exercise that involves becoming physically exhausted, mentally overwhelmed, socially dazed, and seriously lost. Have fun!

The night starts calmly enough. You feed the kids and get them started on homework. You just know they are not going to get on the cell phone/TV/computer once you have left. You feel smug about your parenting skills.

You leave the room to grab your daughter’s schedule. When you return, your girls are ensconced in front of the TV, the Video Music Awards blaring. ‘We’re just taking a break,” they say in unison, not bothering to tear their eyes away from Pink.

You’re about to say something when you notice your son lying down on the hardwood kitchen floor, suspiciously near the computer. “I study better when I’m uncomfortable,” he announces, his eyes sliding over to the screen, where Minecraft is still visible.

There’s nothing you can do. You have to go.

 “Please do your homework!” you say sternly. (Translation: you plead.)

Your husband pulls up in the car. You are annoyed that he is a) late, and b) unconcerned.

You start suggesting alternate routes to the school. This does not make for a blissful car ride. He ignores your superior navigation skills. You finally arrive at the Thunderdome – that is, the high school. People are pouring in from all sides like tweens at a One Direction concert.

“We’ll never find parking,” you mutter. A spot suddenly opens up. Your husband pulls in. He is chuckling. When did he become so insufferable?

There isn’t time to dwell. The hall is a mosh pit of parents. Your husband starts to linger, greeting people he hasn’t seen in a while. “Chop, chop,” you say brightly, grabbing him by the arm in a death grip. “We have to get to the fourth floor!”

By the third floor you are wheezing and your legs are giving out. You drape yourself over the banister, just to get a little rest. You begin to wish you’d been a little nicer to your husband – it’s looking like he may need to carry you the last flight.

Eventually, you get there. The teacher seems nice. She opens her mouth to speak – the bell rings. First period is over! Time to find the next classroom!

The next teacher’s a little stern. Suddenly you’re cast back to high school. You slink lower in your seat. Your husband cracks a joke. He’s back in high school too! You kick his ankle.

In the next class, a parent monopolizes the teacher. You roll your eyes at a friend. You study the teacher. Is he is even 25? You snap to attention when he mentions a test the next day.

What? Your daughter didn’t say anything about a test. You surreptitiously text her to ask if she’s aware of this. She texts back that YES, SHE KNOWS.  She plans to study once Green Day performs. You sigh.

At last, you’ve finished. You and your husband stagger out, passing other glassy-eyed parents. You have a sense of overwhelming relief. You made it to every classroom; and you’re not the one taking calculus. You head home.

And so another school year begins.