Back to school
August 23, 2016
I woke up Monday morning to the news summer break was officially over for a number of my friends and their children.
There were the standard social media posts of children on a front porch, many holding signs announcing the grade they were about to enter. Most didn't look thrilled to be up so early. Others seemed to be under the impression they were waiting in line for their turn in the electric chair, a mix of terror and resignation on their faces.
My older sister — who can remember with great clarity that time I shorted her 65 cents in 1982 in a lemonade stand deal gone bad, yet seems to forget we live in different time zones at least once a week when she awakes at 5:30 a.m. and has to tell me something — called me Monday morning choking back sobs. It was my niece's first day of "school" and she was having a tough time with it. It was also 4:45 a.m. MST, and I was having a tough time with that.
"Where did the time go? My baby is all grown up."
"Michele, she's 22 months old. I think 'all grown up' is reserved for wedding days."
"She is going to SCHOOL, Amy. School!"
"Where she is going to learn to do what exactly? Tear paper?"
"I have to go. I have a photographer coming over to document this day."
"You hired a photographer?"
"It's a thing now to have a professional photographer capture such a monumental day in your child's life."
"Again, I think you're confusing this with a wedding day; but tell Addison good luck with the transition from babbling and napping all day at home to babbling and napping all day at daycare."
This conversation with my sister normally wouldn't phase me; few conversations with her take place in reality. But the idea that my niece was going to preschool like a Kardashian, paparazzi and all, made me wonder what other back to school trends are developing.
Social media came along well after I graduated from college. And I will be forever grateful that my stupidest moments are not chronicled on someone's Facebook page. But even so, I don't recall going back to school having as much celebration or flare as it does now. I think my mom took a few photos of me and my sisters waiting for the bus, then probably danced a little jig in the driveway, but that's about it. As the second child, I didn't even get the benefit of back to school shopping — my parents just handed me a box of clothes that no longer fit my older sister at the beginning of August and told me not to grow out of them. Even when I went off to college 1,500 miles from home, there was little fanfare. My dad taught me how to change a flat tire and my mom handed me a laundry basket and a roll of quarters. "See you at Thanksgiving" was the sendoff from my sisters. By today's standards, I'm pretty sure that qualifies as neglect, abuse and probably some level of permission to select a state-run nursing home for my parents.
But of course time and technology change the way we observe what was once considered a mundane rite of passage. In addition to my sister hiring a camera crew, I also noticed friends who rented a limo for their child's first day of school and another who sent little Susie off with elaborate treats for her classmates — I'm talking a sheet cake decorated as a chalkboard and cookies in the shape of chalk with all the students' names on them.
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Park City kids go back to school this week too, and this is not a town typically outdone. I look forward to seeing all the Pinterest-worthy posts. I'll have plenty of time to read them while stuck in the gridlock on 248, created by all that school traffic.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident, and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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