Elementary School Open House and Why It Makes Me Hyperventilate

Yesterday, as this post title would lead you to believe, was open house at Jack and Quinn’s schools. It was, as this post title would also lead you to believe, hectic. Yeah, let’s go with hectic.

Here’s why:

1. Awesomely, both Jack and Quinn’s schools schedule their open houses for the EXACT SAME TIME. God, that’s so great.

2. Quinn is panicked—panicked—about going back to school. Like, sobbing meltdown panicked. You might be able to imagine how happy he was to go to open house today. I feel so bad for that kid. He is so freaked out. None of his good buddies are in his class, but the one kid he gets stressed out by will sit at his table. Good times. I cannot even imagine what Monday morning’s scene at the bus stop is going to be like and I have no idea how to make it better for him. I’m considering buying him a kitten. You think I’m kidding. I am not.

3. After we left Quinn’s school to drive to Jack’s school, Quinn was more relaxed. Sam and Jack, who were trapped in the back seat together, were not. It probably took 20 minutes to drive to Jack’s school, which, it turns out, is plenty of time for the two of them to bicker endlessly, each “accidentally” scratch the other one, and for both of them to shriek shrilly at each other for sustained periods of time. I could have dealt with the situation better than I did, but pulling the car over dramatically and gesticulating wildly at my kids had an effect.

4. Jack’s bag of school supplies exploded, leaving me to leak a trail of glue sticks and highlighters as we trudged into his school.

5. Jack’s school visit went pretty well. He got to see his good friend who is in his class and he seems so at home in his classroom, which is the same as last year. We did lose one of our favorite paraeducators to another classroom (boo!) and her replacement hasn’t been hired yet, which seems problematic considering school starts Monday.

6. This one requires a back story: Sam was considering taking a language this year and was going to choose French. I thought he should take Spanish because so many people in our area and worldwide speak that language. I may or may not have uttered the phrase, “French is useless,” meaning there are are many fewer countries where French is the language of record. (Apologies to Francophiles; I am prone to hyperbole.)

Jack’s school has a French immersion program. We were walking down the hallway after talking to a couple of French teachers who will teach (in English) a couple of Jack’s inclusion subjects. A school staff member was just ahead of us as Sam busted out with, “MOM!”—and yes, he spoke that loudly—”MOM, REMEMBER WHEN YOU TOLD ME FRENCH WAS USELESS?”

“Oh my God, Sam, I didn’t say that,” I responded lied, noting that the staff member was totally listening.


“SAM, don’t say that here IN FRONT OF PEOPLE,” I hissed.

At this point the woman turned around and was all, “I hear you,” and then joined in with Sam in mocking me and I probably turned bright red and kept insisting that that IS NOT WHAT I SAID, STOP IT, SAM, STOP IT RIGHT NOW, and then I punched him in the arm to get him to shut up, but that didn’t work and instead he started yelling that I’d hit him and I looked even worse.

If that was even possible.

Sam was completely delighted by the situation.

7. My own damn mother, who is in town for a brief visit, was all, “Huh. I thought I had an idea of what it’s like to do these things with your kids, but when I’m with you, I see how really difficult it is.” I’m not sure how to take that.

And those are only the highlights. See? Hectic. How was your open house?

36 thoughts on “Elementary School Open House and Why It Makes Me Hyperventilate

  1. I will admit that my 10 year old Aspie may or may not have wrestled/snatched toys out of preschoolers’ hands during his brother’s special education pre-K open house. And, his preschool brother might have vomited his snack onto the floor. Fun times!

  2. Thanking the Gods I home school. Only one kid has had issues getting back into the swing of work. One threat of “going back to elementary school” works like a charm.

    • It was during one of Q’s pre-open house meltdowns that I started to really seriously wonder if this is the year that happens for one of my kids. I definitely see the charm of homeschooling.

      • Well, if you ever do feel that way…i have a suggestion (umbrella school -helps you get around bureaucracy and meet maryland requirements. google: maryland “many paths to natural learning”

  3. Soooo, were you with me on Tuesday??? Because this sounds eerily familiar. Except, well, my autistic son couldn’t even get through the door of his classroom because it was too much. And my preschooler ran away and disappeared for about a minute, which gave me a minor coronary…but the rest. Oh, yes. I feel ya. Mimosas on Monday when we get them out the door?!?!

  4. Completely empathize, and hope things settle down once school is under way. [You’d think the teachers would consider stressful interactions when assigning table groups, but it’s probably alphabetical or something.]
    As to languages: I studied French for seven years, and loved it. So, I was going to completely mock your idea that Spanish is more useful, until this: http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acs-22.pdf
    If I had school aged children, I would probably encourage them to study Spanish, an Asian language, AND French, at some time in their lives. :)
    PS: I studied Spanish as an adult, and would often mix Spanish and French in class. You kinda had to be there to know how funny that was. Fortunately, there were no grades.

    • You can mock. That’s okay. :)

      I took Spanish in middle school and Italian in college and I had the same mixing of languages in class. So I totally can imagine how funny your French/Spanish thing was.

      • Hi! So, I intended to reply with an insightful observation about second language acquisition.
        And then, I see on your Facebook feed over there >
        that you have adopted kittens?
        Please, check the kids’ backpacks before they leave for the first day of school. I’m not certain; however I don’t think the school system approves of smuggling in kittens. As cute as they might be.
        Also, ACHOO! Sniff. I can’t be in the same room with a kitten. :(
        Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are great.
        Despite allergies, I’m really pleased that you are adopting kittens. Did you go to the WARL?
        Also, please tell the gerbils to shelter in place. There’s no need for concern.

  5. Ugh, that sounds beyond terrible. You have a great gift in making the terrible funny. ;)

    My heart really goes out to Quinn. I have an older child who has been struggling with transition-stress and it has been very difficult. Monday sounds like it will require so much from you and from him. All joking aside, know that this Mama will be holding you both in her heart.


  6. Our open house is the Tuesday after Labor Day. School starts the next day. My daughter will be in the same classroom she’s been in for the last 1.5 years, with the same teachers and a lot of the same students. So a little less stressful! Plus, I have an added benefit. Her open house is from 4-6pm, while I’m at work or commuting, so my husband has to go instead of me. I just have to do first day of school drop-off.

    • That does help when the kiddo has been in the class for a while. Jack was totally happy in his classroom that he was in last year as well, which was wonderful to see.

  7. We don’t have an open house. We drop them off the first day and hope for the best. O_o

    Oh, and we don’t even know who his teacher is yet, they’ll send a letter a few days before school starts. I probably won’t meet her/him in person until the first parent teacher conferences in October-ish.

    • Our school starts Monday and the open house was Friday. I think they tell you at the last possible second so we don’t have time to complain.

  8. Preparation for start of school in our house went something like…
    Me: “Remember guys that we start school on Monday”
    Them: “What day is it today?”
    Me: “Friday”
    Them: “Ok”

    Home Ed is awesome…although I may feel differently come Monday morning.
    I really hope it all goes smoothly for you. I’ve SO been there and it’s tough.
    (And by the way we too reckoned French was useless, when none of us could do it. We found Spanish and Italian fun though.)

  9. Oh, man, I’m laughing so hard about the French faux pas but feeling for you so, so much about Quinn. I’m sorry this year’s transition is so rough for him. If the classroom situation is stressing him out (and the stress is specific to his particular school, not school in general) remember that you always have the option to make a COSA request to place him at Jack’s school. He’d also be allowed to ride Jack’s bus, which might make things easier on both of you.

    I don’t have any sage advice otherwise. T went through a very similar episode last year, and the first two weeks of school were heartwrenching. It did get better again after she readjusted to the school routines and I had the staff deal with a bully that was bothering her on the bus. I hope the new kitten helps make the transition a little easier for him.

    (And I have to mention that R is so happy to see Jack again that she can’t. Stop. Smiling. (Or talking about the Minecraft strategies she’s going to discuss with him. At length.)

    • Thank you so much, Gayle. He likes his school and I have faith in the teachers there, but I wish I knew how to make it easier for him to be there. I’m working on it though. :)

      Jack will be pleased to discuss the strategies. :) :)

  10. We went to the back-to-school picnic to see the teachers only to learn that they changed Tate’s teacher without telling us.. When I told her he was stressed, she wouldn’t even talk to him. She just said he would be fine after a few days. I hate her. Tate is totally freaked out. What will we do?

    • Oh, Melanie, that makes me so sad for your Tate. Oh God. Document everything. Be a squeaky wheel. Make a voodoo doll. Dammit. I’ll be sending hate rays with squinty eyes from here too. :(

  11. Our open houses are next week. Like you, I have kids in 2 different schools (I know you have 3 in 3 different schools but it’s kind of the same). Last year K’s ASD teacher suggested we come in early the day of BTSOH. That’s when I knew K was going to have a good year. Why didn’t we think of this earlier? So that is the plan this year as well. We will be there about 2 hours before any one else.

    I’m still waiting to find out who Q is going to have this year. Apparently they are still finalizing enrollment in her grade. Umm school starts in a week. If you need to add another section, you need to make that decision like now! We got an email from the school saying we would find out “early next week”. Well their BTSOH is Tuesday. So… will we get the letter in the mail before or after the Open House? There are going to be a lot of 3rd graders wandering around wondering where they need to be.

    I think they need to make BTS 2 hours long at least. It’s just too crazy to cram everyone in in an hour or less.

    • That’s awesome about K’s teacher. For him/her to be the one to suggest that is phenomenal. As for Q? Yeah, you’d think they’d have that nailed down, wouldn’t you?

  12. that’s hilarious. when I was Sam’s age, I had to choose a language, and I thought Spanish would be a good choice, you know, for all of the important reasons you recognize. My mother however insisted that I take French. I think she was hoping I’d end up cultured. Or something useless like that. For the record, I totally agree with you, French is pretty useless. And for the record, I was at least as surly and difficult as Sam about the topic.

      • Unless you need a graduate degree in something like Art History or South Asian Studies. Then they make you take an even more useless class called “French for Reading Knowledge”, in which you learn how to skim scholarship in French, randomly looking up the words you don’t know in a French dictionary as if you know what the hell is going on in a book in French. Then you toss it out and look either for a proper translation, or different information source.

        • Terrible yet true: At the University of Chicago, where I attempted to get a doctorate, all humanities candidates had to master scholarship in three languages, which meant that I had to take that same “reading knowledge” course for French. (Fortunately, I’d retained enough college Spanish to pass that test without having to take a second class.) My course of study? American literature.

          I still have to thank U of C–I didn’t manage to get the doctorate, but they prepared me incredibly well for a lifetime of battling institutional dysfunction.

  13. Now I have “French is useless” running through my head to the tune of Alouette, which is about bird torture, BTW.

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