Back to School: The Happiest Time of Year

Back to School: The Happiest Time of Year

Most of you probably saw the title of this post and thought, “Why is she writing about Back to School now? My kids have been in school for weeks!”

No need to rub it in.

Yes, your kids have probably been in school for a week, or weeks, or since mid-August (I’m looking at you, Floridians), but my kids just started preschool this week. As in, the week after Labor Day. BUT IT’S FINALLY HERE. MY TIME HAS COME.

For weeks I’ve watched (via social media, natch) my friends across the country ship their kids off to school in cute outfits after posing with a cute chalkboard sign while the moms (usually) lament their babies growing up.

Now, the first day of school cute outfits? I can get behind cute outfits. The more my kids will hate them when they’re older, the better.


The bigger the bow, the better.

Go big (with the bow) or go home.


He's so going to hate me for this, but I don't even care.

He’s so going to hate me for this, but I don’t even care.


But once we get to the emotional outpourings surrounding the beginning of school, I start to disconnect. My heart must be made of stone because I was literally counting down the hours until I could drop my kids off at class. I only have love for those weepy parents – I promise you, I have my emotional mother moments, too. But back to school ain’t one of them.

James, my two-year-old, is in “school” six hours a week. Six out of 168. If your child is like mine and spends not only most of his waking hours with you, but also most of his “sleeping” hours, those six hours of school are a godsend. Elisabeth, my five-year-old, is now in school five days a week, or 15 hours. My sweet girl is a lover. When she’s not at school, you can probably find her with her arms wrapped around me and her head buried in my chest. Her 15 hours at school are 15 glorious hours of me NOT BEING TOUCHED.   So unless my children are going to magically turn into teenagers during those few hours spent at preschool, I’m not going to get emotional about it.



Night before school texting.


But what I really want to talk about is the ubiquitous chalkboard sign. For those without children or without friends with children, the thing these days is to have your child pose with a sign displaying some sort of variation of their name, age, teacher’s name, what they want to be when they grow up, political party, IQ, languages spoken, etc.

No doubt, these signs are adorable. But I have some questions: When did this become a thing? Where do these signs come from? Are they reusable? Are parents purchasing them from some mass back-to-school sign retailer? Or – God forbid – are they making them themselves?

If you haven’t guessed, I did not do signs. For one thing, I don’t know our teachers’ names, and probably won’t for about another three weeks. And another thing, Elisabeth wants to be a doctor/mommy/candy maker/Olympic swimmer when she grows ups, which wouldn’t fit on a sign anyway. (When I asked James what he wanted to be, he growled at me. Make of that what you will.)

I noticed many variations on the sign. One back to school picture I saw was a simple, “First Day of T-K!” written in chalk on a pre-owned easel. “I could totally do that!” I told myself. Until I remembered I don’t own a chalkboard easel.* If I did, my son would color chalk everywhere but the easel and then smash the easel over his sister’s head. So that’s out. I noticed a few parents who downgraded from the chalkboard signs to old-school paper and marker. Mad respect for bucking the chalkboard trend. Maybe I’ll swing that next year for kindergarten.

My guess is the Back-to-School Chalkboard Sign originated somewhere on Pinterest and exploded. I would be lying if I said I never succumbed to Pinterest’s influence. (See: My son’s disastrous 1st birthday cake smash photo shoot.) But the chalkboard signs seem especially like a lot of work during an already busy back to school season. So I’m going to pass for now. (But seriously, are you all making these yourselves? I have to know.)

Parents, enjoy your signs – and more importantly, your freedom!


*Oh my gosh, I just remembered I DO own a mini chalkboard easel. It is broken and all the chalk is missing or has been thrown away. Presumably James snapped all the chalk pieces into bits, rendering them unusable. No nice things for us.


  1. I have seen some people print some clip art and call it good. I do nothing, but I photograph them in front of the same tree.

  2. Honey. We have chalk for that broken (aka not really broken) chalkboard easel. And, holy moly, what were you thinking with James’ first day outfit?

  3. I love you – that is all! You crack me up girl!

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