Back-To-School Round-Up!

Back-to-school can be a complicated time for parents whose emotions, and Facebook updates, are pulsing with intense frequency. Not even on the most photo-heavy of holidays will you see such a constant stream of singularly-themed content — backpack after backpack, lunchbox after lunchbox — posted with so much pride and excitement.

Don’t get me wrong, the first day of school has always been an exciting occasion — for children. But I don’t recall my parents getting especially “excited” about my first day(s) of school, although I’m sure they were thrilled to be rid of me for eight consecutive hours a day. Not one “first day of school” picture exists of me or my brother, and when I called to ask my parents what they were “feeling” on my first day of school, my father’s response was, “What was I feeling? I was feeling like getting you out the door so you could get to the bus stop on time,” and my (retired high school teacher) mother’s response was, “It wasn’t a big deal. We didn’t take any pictures, and I’ve never seen any pictures in anyone’s house of their kids on the first day. I do remember that all the parents would gather at a house down the street after the bus took you guys to school, and we would have coffee and doughnuts and stuff. But that was more of a celebration. It wasn’t about the kids, it was about the kids being gone, FINALLY! And that was a longstanding neighborhood tradition!” Then she kind of trailed off and started listing the different types of foods they ate: coffee cake, doughnuts, muffins, fruit. And then she paused for a minute before saying, ”You had a very normal upbringing. Whatever’s happened afterwards is all on you. HAHAHA!!!!” and cackled loudly until we got off the phone. 

In other words, the “traditions”of yesteryear don’t have much to do with idolizing children or even showing them off in their cute outfits. You kind of couldn’t. What were you going to do, take a roll of film to the drugstore and get the photos developed right away so you could show every person you came into contact with twelve or thirty or even just one photo of your kid standing on the driveway (and likely not holding a fancy life-sized chalkboard detailing their likes, dislikes, bucket lists, and whatnot)? No. It didn’t make sense then. But who knows, maybe if the internet and digital cameras and Facebook had existed at that time, our parents would’ve done the same thing, just before celebrating the first day of school with coffee and doughnuts alone, on Instagram. God, that sounds depressing.

That being said, back-to-school is not a bleak time in 2014. It’s full of smiles and hair bows and trendy T-shirts, and social media is the perfect place for parents to express themselves. Unless, of course, they suck at it. And about 99% of the time that’s the case, it’s because the parent is some kind of helicopter mom-mama bear “fierce protector” hybrid. It’s how we’ve come to live in a world where memos like this get sent home to parents (this one from a school in Australia):

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"…these types of moves" makes me think of breakdancing, or twerking, or maybe dancing in a Satanic ritual circle with knives. Cartwheels, handstands, and other gymnastics "moves" performed by children just seem like "regular movement" for kids who are already bouncing off the walls with excessive amounts of energy. Kids can’t help that their natural levels of adrenaline often lead to intentionally falling down or diving off of tall structures or running and tumbling into cartwheels or handsprings. That’s just what they do. At this point, I’m waiting for the average PE class to consist of eating a Clif bar and sitting in a gaming room. 

Anyway, the point is — back-to-school has practically been elevated to holiday status, and lots of parents on social media have had a field day (of sorts) since the middle of August. They’re all somewhat obsessed with their children, and yet their reactions to their kids returning to (or entering) school vary. Let’s check out some examples and then put this special scholastic time back on reserve until next August. (Note to parents: If your kid gets a new backpack anytime between mid-September and May, try to refrain from posting a picture.)

1. Helicopter Mom Pride

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Little Issabella looks mighty excited and cute in these pre-k pictures — but is it a multi-photo gallery worth of cute? Could this album have been trimmed down a bit? Aw, who cares. Why take time to hate on something that doesn’t happen every day, right? You only start pre-k once, and Issabella is thrilled to have her picture taken by her mom. Plus, it’s not like Tabitha is going to force anyone to endure this level of documom pride on a daily basis. It’s a special occasion!

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Ah. Never mind. Poor Issabella. When will parents learn that most humans, even tiny ones, aren’t huge fans of having their picture(s) taken before 8 a.m.? By the time Issabella is done with pre-k, she’ll probably have “accidentally” broken her mom’s camera at least 20 times, and all of her mom’s Facebook friends will be extremely understanding about it.

2. First Day Of School Pics On The Second Day

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This is the same ridiculous logic parents use when they hold back their kid so he’s the oldest in his class instead of the youngest. Sure, the dad being described in this tweet may have received more “Likes” or algorithmically come out on top in his friends’ newsfeeds, but how many of them wandered over to another platform to mock him for it? (At least one.)

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What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Hello, and welcome back to the recently idle Electronic Oversharing Parents Tell-Off Courier! It’s been a couple of months since I last updated the site — which I realize is actually a really long time in blog land, and I am very sorry for the delay — but that does NOT mean that the blog and I are engaging in a conscious uncoupling. No, we’re not breaking up at all, and I did not incinerate thousands of carefully organized digital submissions while crying into an oversized baby bottle of wine. It’s more like, sometimes you love something so much, you have to temporarily set it free. You have to step back and look a middle-aged blog in its big brown eyes and say, “It’s not you, it’s me. Let’s see what’s going on in a couple of months.”

   

Thankfully, in this case, the site made its way back to me like a boomerang straight to my heart. I truly missed posting about mommyjacking and stroller rants and the next big placenta craze (which I’m hoping will be cheesy placenta fondue — plastic “mom bib” required!). I even started to miss the ;sanctimommies and the documoms. Oh, hell, I missed it all! Also, my inbox let me know when it was “time.” Once I started receiving emails like this, I knew I was destined to put up a new post, if only to avoid any further shame and embarrassment:

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My favorite thing about this email — which was totally warranted and surprisingly made me feel good — is that, according to my records, this person has never emailed me before. It’s kind of like my hard-ass fairy godmother took a break from her busy yarn-bombing schedule to momentarily swoop in and slap me around. And I’m grateful that she did! It was about time to get back to posting anyway. Summer is over, and school is back in session. (That sound you’re hearing is a school bell followed by a loud rant about babies sleeping.)

I’ve already written a new column about back-to-school over on Mommyish, and I’ll be posting a round-up here, too, just to officially kick off The Return Of the Blog. I know it’s been a while, but play time is over, y’all. It’s time to get back to doing what I do best. Er, doing whatever it is that I do. Excessively long blog posts about parents who abuse social media aren’t going to write themselves, now are they?!! (NO, THEY’RE NOT. I kept checking every week or so like some of you guys, and nope, no one wrote any new posts.)

But before the back-to-school kickoff, I wanted to post a “summer summary” of some things that have come across my screen since my last post in June. It’s only been two months, but so much has happened! Some of it funny, some of it tragic, and a lot of it worth sharing on the blog. This post is like a snapshot of social media responses to summer trends, holidays, current events, neighborhood sightings, and more. 

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I hope everyone’s had an awesome summer (or winter, depending on where you live). Let’s do this.

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(SPECIAL CAPS LOCK DISCLAIMER: THIS POST IS REALLY LONG, SO YOU MAY WANT TO CURL UP UNDER A BLANKET, POUR YOURSELF A BEVERAGE, AND LISTEN TO SOME ROOTS REGGAE TO EASE YOUR TRANSITION INTO MY MEANDERING SUBMISSION TUNNEL OF RANDOM ODDITIES. HOPEFULLY YOU’LL ENJOY THE RIDE.)

Here’s what society lobbed at us in July and August:

1. We Continued To Talk About, And Hopefully Learn From, Terrible Names

Shortly after putting up the last post (about ridiculous names), I got this:

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SERIOUSLY, can you believe that someone would name their child Serious?! Oh, you can? Same here. Nothing surprises me anymore. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Serious has a twin sister named SiriusXM. That’s how little faith I have in parents’ naming abilities at this point.

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I can’t hear the name “Honeydip” without getting the song "Da Dip" in my head, which is both a blessing and a curse. Anyone who’s had that song stuck in their head knows what I’m talking about. Parents: don’t make people think of ”Da Dip” every time they hear your kid’s name. And while we’re at it, it’s probably also not a good idea to make people think of something “tasty.” I wouldn’t name my kid Dijon or Cake Pop for the same reason. 

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One thing’s for sure: If this child ever gets famous by doing something extraordinary, or being expertly skilled, or going on reality television, she’ll have no need for multiple names. She will be known simply (“simply”) as “Annalayah,” or possibly “Zenobia,” although everyone already knows the OG Zenobia was a 3rd-century Queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria who led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire following Odaenathus’ death in 267 A.D. I mean, duh, right?! TOTES OBVS, ya gotta wonder why Lanessa went with such a pedestrian middle name.

2. We Debated Very Important Questions Like The Below

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Ugh, I can’t tell you guys how many hours I sat and quietly pondered this question back in July. I was super grateful to People for posing it on its website. At first I was like, “Yes, Cameron Diaz is clearly being selfish because she’s chosen to wear wet men’s apparel in a magazine photo shoot when she could’ve been breastfeeding a newborn or adopting however many children she can afford (20?).” But then I was like, “Waaaaait a second. Who am I to judge a woman on whether or not she has kids? And why don’t we ever ask this question of male celebrities? Why does no one care if George Clooney has kids??! His kids would be SO good-looking and have SUCH good hair and maybe play doctors on TV, and it’s like no one fucking cares! GOD I HATE THIS BLATANT DISPLAY OF SEXISM IN OUR SOCIETY!!!” It was around this time that I closed my computer and went to a pool or a barbecue or something. But for a long time — several hours, at least — I was extremely concerned about Cameron Diaz. I look forward to the forthcoming tearjerker documentary, “Cameron’s Choice.”

 

3. We Celebrated The Fourth Of July

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Did anyone else read Staci’s status update and imagine her sitting on the couch next to a bedazzled bullhorn and an extra large bucket of fried chicken? Anyone who’s renamed Independence Day to ‘You Wake Up My Babies With Your Damn Fireworks and Momma’s NOT Gonna Be Happy Day’ seems like she’s building her strength and preserving her energies for a loooong day of complaining ahead. Do not even think about daring a mama bear like Staci to do something about her fireworks-loving neighbors, because things *could* get violent. You don’t want that blood on your hands.

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Yoonique Names: Mid-Year Baby Names Dump Edition

A few weeks ago, this image was volleyed all over the internet and celebrated for its khurious yet unmistakhably yoonique charm:

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That’s right, Kharringtyn-McKhynleigh is heading to khindergarten where she’ll learn precisely how diffikhult her name is to spell, whether it’s kharefully written on a sheet of wide-lined paper, inskhribed in a kholoring book, or skhribbled on the backh of a plate displaying makharoni art. Ohhh, how Kharringtyn-McKhynleigh Khaybryn Sparks’s elementary school teachers are going to revere her parents. Talk about two intelligent people who know what’s up with the future! They gave BOTH of their daughters names that’ll take them well into the 2030s and beyond, which is pretty smart considering so much of the workforce is soon going to be replaced by robots.

Thinkh about it: How are people going to stand out and appeal to future employers? By being smarter than robots? No. By having individuality. By being different, and what’s the very first thing hiring managers notice about job applicants? Their name. What kind of VP of a global corporation is going to give the rare “human jobs” of the future to candidates named “Steve” or “Linda”?? I’ll tell you who’s going to get those jobs: Kharringtyn-McKhynleigh Khaybryn Sparks and her sister Khayleigh-Huntyr. By the time 2035 rolls around, those names are going to be lukhrative as fukh.

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With that truism in mind, and with media outlets oft reporting on the inkhreasing khonfusion over modern parents’ obsession with terrible baby names, I figured I’d put together a new batch of name submissions. In fact, in honor of all the hoopla surrounding the Social Security Administration’s annual baby name findings (*note to self: name future daughter ‘Hoopla’), I even wrote an additional column about baby names for Mommyish. That post includes the name “Leviticus Blade,” if you’re interested in checking it out.

So! Let’s get khrackhin’, shall we? From all-around odd name and spelling choices to baby name drama, here are my khurrent favorite submission pickhs (spoiler alert: I’m not sure any are as khreative as Kharringtyn-McKhynleigh Khaybryn Sparks, because that’s the best new fake name in the world, although there are some very strong contenders). 

1. Musical Names 

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NEGATIVE COMMENTS, BE GONE!!! Kristi’s status update questionnaire is about harmony, so if you happen to be one of the many, many people who think that "musical" names don’t need to be interpreted quite this literally, you can keep your dissonant garbage talk to yourself. Kristi doesn’t need your bad vibes, and little ”Legato” or “Demo” doesn’t need them, either. No one wants this thread to be off-pitch or out of tune, okay??

Other comments that Kristi will not tolerate on this thread:

  • Additional name suggestions for Baby B., such as OphicleideMixtape, or Slur 
  • Suggestions for accent marks on the names. (Yes, at one point Kristi and Jonathan were considering Encorè and Kōda, but they have decided against them for now. Please do not bring this up, as it will cause more tension than you can possibly imagine.)
  • Comments about Kristi and Jay’s decision to have the baby in the orchestra pit at their local performing arts centre. This has already been discussed at length, but for all you people in the back, once again: It will be the best place to serenade Kristi during labor and also the best place to record Baby B.’s first cries upon arrival which will be sampled in an upcoming performance. Please do not be offended if you don’t get invited to sit in the audience during the delivery, as there’s only room for 375 people. You will still have access to the live-stream if you’d like to witness Baby B.’s “solo” entrance into the world.

 

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