The Best and Worst of Back-To-School
A Married Couple Weighs Fall Pros and Cons
By Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn, coauthors of You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up ... A Love Story and real-life married couple
Best: The possibility that this school year will be different. A new fresh start where things go right and our son Ezra will be happy at school, get great grades and wake up full of hope yearning for knowledge and wisdom, and we will be one small and blissful family.
Worst: The reality: Annabelle will turn into the homework tyrant Czarinabelle, decreeing how much time and effort our son, the homework peasant, must spend doing homework. She will also morph into the Anti-TV Crusaderabelle, who will swoop down upon Ezra and I with the mighty and swift vengeance of Sir Freaking Galahad on the infidels if she dare catch us watching together. ...Read More
Best: 12-and-half-year-old son gone from 8 A.M. to 3 P.M. every day.
Worst: Waking at 6:30 to start begging, prodding and pleading for our 12-and-half-year-old son to get out of bed, put on clothes, eat breakfast, brush his teeth — all the while frantically waiting for the coffee's caffeine to kick into Annabelle's bloodstream and triggering her morning personality to morph from Medusa to the much more reasonable Wicked Witch of the West. By the time we recover from getting Ezra to school, it's time for him to come home and begin his homework. Cue Czarinabelle!
Best: Technically, since Ezra has to be up at 6:30, he goes to sleep at a reasonable hour, giving us more “us time.”
Worst: Fat chance of him going to bed earlier. In fact, we'll be lucky if he goes to bed before us, which leaves us not only too exhausted for “us time” but probably too tired for even a little “me time.”
Best: Back to school means crisp, clean, clear autumn days with leaves turning and the sweet smell of fall in the air.
Worst: We live in Los Angeles, where autumn means a spike in temperatures so high that it's referred to as fire season. Every day brings a threat of a brush fire that could very well force us to evacuate our home like we did two years ago. What you grab while evacuating your home, not knowing if you'll ever see it again, says a lot about who you are. Ezra brought his stuffed animal hamster, Young Ming Ming. I took my computer, a bottle of good wine and the vibrator. Annabelle took our house deed, all the important medical, financial and personal papers, the good silver and a few of our wedding photos. The only thing she didn't bring was a change of underwear, so she had to wear my boxers for a few days as we rode out the evacuation in a dear friend's gnarly guesthouse. Ah, back to school ....
Best: Summer is over. Summer used to mean lazy days, but as a parent, summer is one long anxiety-provoking attempt to fill our time with meaningful experiences that also fit within our limited budget, so counting the days until school starts was one of the few activities we could afford this year!
Worst: School starting. We are full on into the “driving years.” As we don't live in a city with convenient public transportation, we might as well move into our cars, as our ratio of time spent at home versus time spent driving to and from school is close to 50% and verging on longer. I'm considering outfitting our vehicles with Snuggies and microwaves and calling it a day.
Best: Our son is learning in a project-based curriculum program, in which every week he learns experiential lessons through different mediums, connecting subjects like art with math.
Worst: I am still trying to convince my family that the unfortunate and persistent insect infestation was not connected to the biodegradable edible architecture project “he” created last year.
Best: More time with family as summer baseball schedule is over. We might even have time to have dinner together.
Worst: Because it's 2010 and everyone is on different diets, I'm on a high-protein diet, Ezra's on a low-protein diet and my husband is a faddist who changes every week according to research, i.e., “I need to eat a diet that is gluten-free so I have more energy" or "I need a diet that's high in omega oils.” He's basically eating canned sardines and arugula, and by the time I get everyone to agree on dinner, it's time to go to bed.
Best: Bored to Death on HBO is fun to watch together.
Worst: Yikes, we've turned into the kind of people who watch “their program” together. When did we become those people?! But you know what, it's fun as long as we limit ourselves to one night a week and all 800 channels of television aren't “our programs.” Park Slope detective mysteries, here we come.
Books, bus rides, morning hustle and bustle ... must be back-to-school season!Walter B. McKenzie/Getty Images