Friday, August 8, 2014

4 Reasons to Not Post Gleefully About your Kids' Return to School

First day of fifth and first grade
August on social media freaks me out by showing me the giant variation in first days of school around the country.  My southern-most friends have already posted their first day of school pics, so this post comes a tad late. I enjoy the ritual of the first day of school picture.  I do not enjoy the category of post that I'll call "My stinking children are back in school, and now I'm free!". I know summer is different and that children can be annoying.   But adults can annoy, too, and these posts are one of the ways.  I shall now state my reasons against posting that kind of thing.  

4.  It looks bad and selfish.  
This is probably the big theme here - that those who are responsible for raising children look a little ugly when we wax ecstatic about them going away.  This goes double for those of us fortunate enough to have primary home and parenting responsibility.  Not everyone can structure their family life in such a way that summer feels different because we're home full- or part-time to notice that the kids are underfoot when school's not in session.  It might be true that you're psyched to have more quiet or autonomy or whatever, but just keep that to yourself.

3.  Summer vacation is sweet and fleeting.  
As my coworker prepares to become an empty nester, I'm reminded of how short this period of our family life will feel one day.  Summer means our kids get to be a little bored, which seeds their creativity.  Summer means when they ask to play catch, I don't have to ask if they've done their homework.  Summer means no evening school events.  Celebrating the return to school means not celebrating the supremely unique chrono-province of summer vacation.  

2.  Some of your friends wish they had kids to annoy them.  
Those going through fertility issues (as we once did) find sour grapes posts by parents pretty hard to take.  Also, there are single people who would love to be married and have the joys and struggles of family life.  Those of us lucky enough to be parents would do well to stifle this impulse to dance on the schoolhouse steps for their sakes. 

1.  Children can read.  
This might be the only reason you need.  What if you were a kid and read over your parents' shoulder that they were so pleased you wouldn't be around so much now that school has started?  Would that make you feel wanted and loved?  If our kids posted "My parents are going away!  Yay!", we would use our authority over them to make them take that post down.  When we post, we're not even saying it to them.  We're saying it to other people about them, which can only hurt and embarrass them more.    


Anne H. said...

Yes to all those reasons, Jeff. Your child can read now and they can certainly read as they get older. They will have a long-lived reminder that you wanted them away from you. That could come back to haunt.

Lauren Jackson said...

I agree with you, too. The only folks who deserve to feel such relief at school starting again are those people who work full time and have struggled all summer to find a different camp each week and then have to keep track of a constantly changing schedule and different drop off times and locations. And those poor folks are probably conditioned to think that summer should be fun and relaxing and then it isn't. I feel so blessed to have the same summer schedule as my kids and I will miss them tremendously when we all start working again.

JFo said...

There has been a lot of discussion on facebook about this post - which shot into the top 10 most viewed all time on my blog in less than 24 hours - both on my wall and on the walls of others who shared it. Many readers agreed. One of the interesting strains of resistance is that people took the post to say "don't feel this way", and while I can understand that leap, that's not actually what I said. Parents can feel however they want to feel about their kids going back to school. We can privately share those feelings with other parents who will understand the burdens that come along with the unique opportunities of the summer. But feeling and privately sharing things does not equate to posting about them in public and semi-public forums. Perhaps our culture pushes us to demolish that wall and post whatever thought pops into our head with whatever emotion we currently feel, but feeling and posting or even sharing privately (face to face or on the phone) and posting are different. I long ago learned not to argue with feelings; I've worked very hard at separating my own feelings from my own actions. This post decried the action of posting, not the personal feeling of relief or glee that one might feel. That's not just implicit, either. It's explicit. Posting has consequences that feeling and privately sharing do not.

Carole Bate said...

Well said! I agree.