Randolph, NJ (Aug 25) – For the past 20 years, the Wednesday before Labor Day has been anticipated as much as any day of the calendar year. It has become the unofficial beginning to the school year as local mothers camp out at their mailboxes awaiting the letter from the school district to inform them who they, I mean their kids, will have for the new school year.
The frenzy that ensues is a maddening mix of hysteria and joy all depending on which teacher’s name is written on that 8×11 piece of paper. Local telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon add extra cell phone bandwith to ensure the estimated 10.7 million calls and text messages will be sent and received between approximately 400 mothers over the days following the mailing. One mother of two students, Jan Woodel, even installs an additional landline just in case the cell grids get overloaded. “I can’t take the chance that I won’t be able to get in touch with everyone. With two kids, I feel like it’s double the work to figure out exactly who’s in each class!”
This annual ritual runs a gamut of emotions, ranging from the elation of their children returning to school after two or sometimes even three grueling weeks at home since the end of camp to the impending doom of having to do homework, book reports, and possibly shoebox dioramas. Depending on the teacher mothers get for the year, it could be a school year they wish would never begin. Area mother, Allyson Stein (kids Jake, 5th grade, Dani, 2nd grade) is already bracing for a laborious school year. “We have O’Malley for 5th and I heard she’s a real tough disciplinarian but thankfully doesn’t assign weekend homework. For 2nd, Dani and I have Mrs. Finkelstein who I think used to be Miss Pasquariello who Jake and I didn’t have when he was in 2nd. I heard she loads the work on in the beginning of the year but since she’s now a “Finkelstein” I’m assuming she may be busy with the Jewish holidays at her in-laws this year. I’m praying that’s the case.”
As mothers are burdened with the pressures of homework, manicure appointments and gym training sessions are canceled in favor of reviewing elementary math and social studies while summer reading erotica is eschewed in favor of reading up on popular “Wacky School” stories like “Miss LeShore is a Whore” and “Mr. Fife Beats his Wife”. Many moms are complaining privately among each other about the amount of homework they get assigned every night. Stein shares the sentiments of her entire social circle. “Last year, it seemed that bitch, (4th grade teacher Jill) McMahon, was assigning essays just to keep us moms busy if there was nothing else to do. And she never once gave me, er, Jake, higher than a B+ on any report or diorama. I did a diorama with about 37 tips I got on Pinterest and still only got a B. I was pissed. Not sure Jake knew about the assignment, though.”
After accumulating lists of all the students’ teacher assignments from Mrs. Woodel, Mrs. Stein distributes the unofficial ledger to the community days before the school begins in an effort to aid the formation of parent study teams and advocate groups to ensure they won’t be assigned too much work and face unreasonable deadlines.
When asked about his feelings about the start of the school year, Mrs. Stein’s husband, Jon, responded, “What grade are the kids in again?”