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An Open Letter to My Children’s School Regarding the Excessive Amount of Papers You Send Home

Categories: Best Practices


Dear Elementary School,

If you and I were to enter into a romantic relationship, get married under a beautiful wisteria-draped arbor in the spring and then ultimately end up in marriage counseling, our marriage therapist would be incredibly impressed with your communication skills. In fact, she would probably look at the two of us sitting in her office– you with your eager, straight-backed posture and a file folder of color-coded newsletters balanced carefully on your knees, and me slumped in the corner of the couch whispering aggressively into my phone trying to convince Siri to remind me to pick up my prescription later– and shake her head woefully, wondering just what it was that brought the two of us together in the first place.

The truth is, School, I was awed by you at first. You seemed so organized, so responsible! You seemed like the type who’d never accidentally run out of clean underwear or sandwich bags. Back then, I’ll admit, I was a little vulnerable. The divorce had really pulled the rug out from under me and I was frequently forgetting to shower, sleep, and drink water. I was a mess, and your blurrily-copied permission forms arrived at home with such reassuring regularity that I couldn’t help but be drawn in to your stolid presence. But that was then, School: it was a simpler time when accent walls seemed like a good idea and young women would definitely kiss you on the first date if you sent home an invitation to an ice cream social printed on a sherbet-colored rectangle sprinkled with Comic Sans. Things are different now.

The kids have gotten a little older, and I no longer worry that I’ll forget which day it is. Emails from my ex-husband don’t make me cry anymore, and I no longer rely on the government to keep us stocked up on bread and Life cereal. In short, I am pretty close to having my s#!$ together these days and I would really appreciate it if you could stop making me feel guilty by filling my recycle bin with a small forest each week.

I know this is confusing for you because I have two children, but one newsletter is really all I need. The second copy is unnecessary and excessive, as well as the second copy of every announcement for all of the things I’ll never go to because I work a lot and really don’t feel like spending my Wednesday night stuffed in a cafeteria with other parents planning next year’s walk-a-thon. I just want to eat dinner with my kids and fight with them about whether or not they need to use toothpaste when they brush their teeth, so please stop inviting me to stuff. Also, as I mentioned earlier, Siri pretty much runs things around here now, so your second, third and sometimes fourth reminders about wrapping paper sales and roller skating parties are redundant and if we’re being completely honest here, Siri is probably a little offended by them. She’s got this, okay? Back off.

In conclusion, I’d like to point out that while your after-school programs for K-2 students sound like a whole lot of fun, neither of my kids are eligible due to not being in those grades anymore, so we probably don’t need those lists of program costs and descriptions. And at the risk of being labeled bitter or resentful by our marriage therapist, I’d like to remind you that I’m never going to volunteer in the staff copy room because I work fifty hours a week at three different jobs, so if you could stop rubbing it in my face that some mothers have time for these things, that would be great.

A Parent Who Is No Longer That Into You

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4 comments so far...

  • Hi Karli,
    Although my daughter is only in preschool, and I’ve completely cut out all communication with my ex during the divorce, and I am not yet bombarded with newsletters, attractive offers and announcements from her school, something in your post strikes a chord with me.
    There was definitely a time (not so long ago), when loss of a very dear person made me so incapacitated that any and all advice, reminders, or -better- actual help were so welcomed I couldn’t function without them. But now that I am managing, and wanting to prove to myself that I can get it together once and for all, and that I am able to handle my life on my own, outside intrusions (even constant invitations for playdates that I am unable to accept due to working all the time) have become just that - annoyance and a constant reminder of the way things were and what they no longer are.

    Stumbled on your blog accidentally while looking for single mother blogs… I am generally a silent anonymous reader, but couldn’t help myself and commented this time. Thank you for your post :)

    Olya  |  March 20th, 2013 at 12:05 pm

  • Ah but they are in trouble either way. This year my child’s school went to almost entirely online communications - unless it required your signature or came from the superitendency, it was posted on the Web site — and of course parents complain they don’t know what’s going on (such as my daughter missing spring play tryouts because our Internet was on the fritz).
    They really can’t win with us… :)

    Mich  |  March 22nd, 2013 at 1:31 pm

  • Olya, thank you for your comment! Sounds like you’re kicking a$$ and taking names. Keep it up, Mama, you’re doing good! :)

    Karli  |  March 24th, 2013 at 10:24 pm

  • Mich, how I long for paperless communications from the school! I envy you, but I am sorry to hear about the play tryouts. :/

    Karli  |  March 24th, 2013 at 10:26 pm