To make sure the new term runs as smoothly as a toddler with diarrhoea, here is HDs guide to getting back to school.
(notes: This post does not apply to teachers who have spent the entire holiday entertaining their own kids before beginning another 12 weeks of entertaining 30 stranger's kids.)
- Never ever tell any of the school staff what you do for a living. Unless you want to be building the barbeque for the summer fate, doing a talk on road safety, making leaflets for the PTA or running a pottery workshop keep that information to yourself.
- Never ever volunteer to help on a school trip. One of two things will happen (a) Your child will behave the way they normally behave for you, which will shock and stun their teachers and make you feel like a crap parent (b) Your child will behave the way they normally do in school, which will make you realise that they should be behaving much better for you and make you feel like a crap parent.
- Never ever dress up to do the school run. If you arrive at school looking poor and dishevelled, possibly with some sort of drug or alcohol addiction your child will be forgiven almost any misdemeanour. If you arrive in a Range Rover and Versace suit you will not be allowed any leeway at all. This will become painfully obvious the first time you don't pay dinner/snack/trip money on time or send your child to school wearing no underpants. If your kids go to the sort of school where everyone has a Range Rover and a Versace suit, just opt for last season's model.
- Never ever complain about anything. Parents in rough schools don't complain about anything - they are happy if their kids get home alive. Parents in posh schools complain about everything. You may think the teaching staff are simply an extension of your domestic staff. They are not. Also you may believe that the size of your wallet guarantees that your child is a gifted academic/linguist/football player/singer/astronaut and should be treated as such. Remember, as the parent, you are the person least able to make an objective judgement on what an absolute cretin your child really is.
- Never ever get a job in your child's school. This will result in a number of things (a) your child will have the piss taken out of the mercilessly for all your idiosyncrasies. This will be particularly true if you are too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too ugly, too attractive, too smelly, too fragrant, too foreign, too local or have a big nose (b) You will be very disappointed when you realise your little genius has the nickname 'thicky Smith' (c) You will force the Head to brief all school staff that 'thicky Smith's' mum is coming to work at the school and to not speak to her at all for fear of incrimination.
- Never ever believe your child when they say what they've done at school. This is particularly true of boys. If you complain to the Head that your son always seems to do 'nothing' or has been taught how to make a bomb and you're not very happy about it you will be the laughing stock of the staffroom for some time.
- Never ever ask for more homework. Homework is a no win for everybody. Teachers don't want to set it or mark it. kids don't want to do it. If it's easy it's not worth setting. If it's hard the kid won't be able to do it without input from the teacher - or the parent will help by showing the child a method last taught in 1968 which may undo an entire term's learning. You may think that 8 minutes more homework will solve your child's chronic ineptitudes. It won't. Just play the game and sign the bloody homework diary when you have to and everyone can have the weekend free.
- Never ever become a parent governor. School's have to have them. The only useful parent governors are those that have a clue about running a school. Sadly those kinds of people don't want to be parent governors as they've been in school all day. You may think having attended school gives you some level of expertise. It doesn't. I've been to a massage parlour but that doesn't qualify me to become a prostitute. The worst kind of parent governors are those in senior positions in their day jobs. They want to have input and think everywhere should run like a bank. This is dangerous and will result in a number of things (a) you are guaranteed to upset half the parents and all the teaching staff with your ideas for extending the school day, free summer schools and lunch time homework clubs (b) you will force the Head into convening pre meeting meetings so that all important decisions can be made on the sly before you arrive. Parent governors should be like Cheryl Cole. Seen but not heard.
- Never ever brag about your child's achievements and school progress to other parents. There are a number of possible results (a) Other competitive parents will spend their time trying to out brag you (b) parents with low self esteem will worry that their own child is under performing (c) normal parents will think you have some sort of inferiority complex which you are trying to redress through your own child's perceived successes (d) everyone will think you are an arsehole.
- Never ever try to organise regular social events with other parents. Yes there will be people at the school gates who you warm to and will become genuine friends. You will spend time together out of choice and you will be able to rely on each other for child care, emergency pickups, borrowing of Christmas concert outfits etc. However if you stand at the school gates every morning desperately trying to arrange quiz nights, skittles nights, day trips to Alton Towers etc. a number of things will happen (a) some people will start avoiding you (b) some people will think you have no actual real friends (c) Some people will think your marriage is on the verge of collapse so you are trying to spend as much time out as possible (d) most people will think you are having an affair with Harry's dad who is the only male parent to attend every event. As a sub point here it is worth noting that at some point on a 'mums' night out someone will suggest organising one for the Dads. Don't! They won't want to go!
If some of this applies to you, you have a few days left to sort it out. If all of this applies to you then you are a lost cause - and in reality you won't be reading this as you'll be on a mums and kids trip to Caerphilly Castle or reading up on the latest National Curriculum changes ready for your first governors meeting.
To the rest of you. Read this advice carefully so that you do not make the same mistakes and you can carefully avoid those that do.
Have a great term and get cracking on that Badger's costume for the generic winter festival concert.