Wednesday 26 Oct 2016

Back to School
Matt Seinberg

Two phrases, which parents love to utter, are "Camp starts on Monday." and "The kids go back to school on Monday." For us on Long Island, school started either Tuesday or Wednesday. Then the schools let out for Thursday and Friday because of Rosh Hashanah.

What brain dead school administrators thought up that brilliant plan? Why didn't school start on Monday and run through Wednesday?

My daughters had one day of school and off for the next four days. What's the point? It's just another long weekend, and then telling them again on Sunday night to go to bed early, you have school tomorrow. Talk about throwing off your rhythm.

I remember when I was a kid; the first day of school was a big deal. We went out shopping with mom for new clothes, and school supplies. Of course, something was always forgotten, usually some sort of notebook.

Today, the school offers to sell you all the supplies pre-packaged and supplies a list of everything your child needs. Some of the supplies, if you're lucky, are reusable, saved from the year before. Things like rulers, pencil and pen holders, folders and binders are reusable, if your kid didn't destroy them.

Melissa is tough on most everything she gets her hands on. If there is a way to break a ruler or a pencil, Melissa will find it.

I took Melissa to school the first day and saw some parents I hadn't seen since school ended. There were many parents at the school, taking pictures of their kids walking into the building and so forth. Some jumped for joy that their rug rats were out of their hair for a few hours. I had to go to work that day, so it didn't matter to me.

I walk Melissa to school most days. We have to be out of the house by 8:35 am and we can be at the school in about 7 minutes. Since we live so close, we don't get bus service. In bad weather, I'll drive her, and just drop her off at one of the corners by the school and let the crossing guard take it from there.

Melissa says since she is a fifth grader now, she wants to walk to school by herself, just as we let Michelle. We said okay, simply for the reason that there are plenty of other people walking in our neighborhood, and she certainly can't get lost. I'm still nervous, but I'll get a few more minutes of sleep if I really try.

Michelle gets up at 6 AM to get her 7 AM bus. She is now in 9th grade, which is high school on Long Island. When I was in ninth grade, it was still junior high. My fear is still about all those walking raging hormones, otherwise known as boys.

Again, I give fair warning to them; I own a Derek Jeter Louisville Slugger bat, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Michelle needed a new cell phone. My choice was simple: either give her some minutes or get her a semi-real plan. We've all been on pre-paid services for many years. Teenagers want to text and talk, which is financially prohibitive with pre-paid. Last year, I had to block Michelle's phone from texting after she blew through $35 worth of minutes in a week.

Michelle earned a decent amount of money this summer as a Counselor in Training (CIT) at camp. CIT's are glorified campers that pay half price and get the honour of "working" for the camp. To me, it's cheap labour, which the parents still pay for. I told Michelle she could get a new phone and get a better plan with her tips.

We looked on-line at plans and phones, and finally decided on a $25 per month plan from Virgin Mobile. That included 300 talk minutes, but more important, unlimited texting. WooHoo! Please note the fatherly sarcasm here.

I ordered the phone, and it should be showing up any day. I put certain restrictions on its use. I told Michelle the first time she abuses the phone or brings home a bad grade, she it's gone. Dad is not kidding. Michelle knows it.

I love back to school. What matters is I now have my days off all to myself. There's no more trying to entertain two girls who don't want to do much of anything. Now I can sleep late and do my own thing, as long as I do the household chores.

One of my favorite back to school things is going to "Thomas' Ham and Eggery," in Carle Place, about 10 minutes from my house, for a celebration breakfast. This place has been around for over 30 years, and deserves exposure on Food Networks "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." This place is a diner, and their specialty is breakfast.

My favorite meal is their three egg cast iron skillet omelets. You can pretty much have whatever you want in them. I'm simple, just adding bacon and cheese. I wish "Thomas'" would add some crunchy home fries, toast, orange juice and more bacon for the side dishes. Yummo.

This meal is enough to keep you filled all day; no need for lunch my friends. This thing will keep you going until dinner. That is if you can manage to eat anything else at all for the rest of the day and night.

Once those eggs have settled in and you're feeling human again, it's time for the kids to come home from school. Whose idea was it anyway to keep the kids in school only until 2:30-3 pm?

I can go on and on about this, but I have to get the kids ready for our day off tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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