When my neighbor discussed how she prepared her children for the new school year, I listened carefully and thought, “Whatever.”

As unimpressed as I was regarding her pre-school starting endeavors, I can’t imagine why you keep reading about her, but, whatever.

I accept my neighbor is just trying to be a good parent. But, like a lot of women who secretly would like to be recognized as mother-of-the-year, she’s wacko.

Who else would spend a week having their children practice getting up for school? It’s not school, yet. Let them sleep. I’d be much more inclined to practice my vacation schedule. Or let’s say my retirement–if that ever happens–schedule. But practicing your school schedule, why punish yourself?

“I want to make sure they are back on schedule and organized,” she explained about setting the alarm, getting dressed and having breakfast as a family.

“Really? Scheduled and organized? I thought children were synonymous with chaos and disorganization. In this case, practice isn’t like the main event. During practice, there are no spelling tests someone forgot. There are no forms you must sign saying you were notified about someone in the classroom had lice. There is no kid sneaking into the pantry for a box of Jell-O to share with her friends at lunch. Which solves the mystery of the orange index finger.

There is, however, one school activity my children practiced before school started–BACKPACK WEARING.

In the store, they sling a shoulder strap over one shoulder and walk in front of the full-length mirrors. Then they find another backpack and sling one strap over one shoulder and practice again. In yet another store they choose another backpack and look around for mirrors. One kid wants a light-colored canvas bag she can draw on with sharpies.

 “Stop practicing!” I finally yell at the kid deciding between a red UnderArmour bag and a black Nike one. “It’s a backpack for Pete sakes. What’s the big deal?”

They shake their heads sadly recognizing I am even more foolish than the lady making practice sack lunches.

However, I’ve learned one thing. Buy your children the backpack they like best and they will be so excited you won’t have to coerce them to get ready that first day. They’ll hop out of bed, rush through the morning routine and arrive 15 minutes early. That evening they will be so tired, they’ll fall asleep before you have to make any threats.

Bam. You’re back on schedule. No practice. No hassle. And as expensive as those backpacks were, I never will retire.

*This piece originally appeared at krpublishing.org

ViAnn Prestwich

Writing and teaching have always been a way of life for ViAnn. She taught high school English and journalism for several years. After adopting five children she became a full-time mother and part-time author. For over ten years she wrote, “Family Matters,” a weekly newspaper column. Recently she has published a book entitled, “Motherhood in Black and White,” which is a (mostly) humorous description of racing bi-racial children. Find her at her website: http://www.krpublishing.org/