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Back-to-School Night


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The urge to laugh was overwhelming, kinda like when you're at church, in the middle of an intense sermon, sitting in the front row, knowing the last thing in the world you should do right now is laugh.

It was Back-to-School Night at my kids' elementary school, and there we all were, the huddled masses of tired, hungry and "punchy" parents all crowded together in the school cafeteria trying to forget our fatigue and hunger long enough to concentrate on the important messages that those we've entrusted our children's' education to, have for us.

"And we're taking discipline more seriously this year, so with the third offense…"

"Tears gathered at the corners of my eyes as I bit my lip to choke back the laugh..."
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"…your child will be given the choice of firing squad or guillotine," whispered my friend Sandy, on my right, under her breath.

Tears gathered at the corners of my eyes as I bit my lip to choke back the laugh and tried to concentrate on what the speaker was saying. Think of sad things, I told myself… sick puppies, starving people in China, the piles of dishes waiting for me at home, anything to keep down the sniggers I so desperately wanted to release.

"And if we see children who are dirty, hungry and just can't seem to stay awake during class…"

"…they'll know they are one of mine," finished Julie, the friend to my left, completely breaking my concentration on the ins and outs of what parents need to do at home to make sure their kids are primed properly for learning.

"We're gonna get in big trouble if you guys don't knock it off," I whispered to Julie and Sandy as we giggled, covered our mouths and averted our eyes in hopes that the school principle wouldn't see us.

It's not that we were mocking the importance of the meeting or the information school administrators were giving us that night; we know it's important for parents to have a meet and greet session with the school officials and teachers to make sure our children can get the most out of their education. It's just that there's something about the whole back-to-school night routine that reminds my friends and me of skits you'd see on Saturday Night Live. Maybe it's due to the fact that we're all gathered in the school hall with teachers – it just brings out our inner "class clowns." I doubt we were the only ones who reverted to the level of our school-aged children. I'm sure there were Saturday Night Live skits being written all over town during parent meetings that first week of school.

But doing what it takes to make my children's educational experience the best it can be is tops on my priority list, so maybe next year I should try sitting way in the back, far away from anyone I know. That way I can really concentrate on the information being given, take notes, write down questions I should ask – get the most out of the one evening a year the school asks me to come in and find out what's what on the subject of my children's education. Besides, I'll probably get much better trajectory with the spit wads I'll be shooting at the backs of my friends' heads.

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