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Lessons learned from back to school night(s)

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Last week was a doozy. Monday was the 2nd grade back to school night. Tuesday was the kindergarten back to school night. Wednesday night was the parent orientation for CCD and for me, a wake-up call for just how much of my Catholic education I’ve forgotten.

I’m told that as a kid, I used to sing church hymns in the tub but, it seems with the passing of the years, I’ve forgotten not only many of those hymns but some of the Catholic basics as well – like the fact that the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Communion both apparently take place in the second grade. This was just one eye-opening takeaway from our back to back evenings back at school; here are a few more.

1. Second grade is tough. Especially the spelling homework -- not the words themselves but the routine of how they must be written, then alphabetized, then used in a sentence. There is also some very specific page folding and numbering involved; it seems a lot more complicated than the good old spelling bees I recall from my youth. What I learned from one night in second grade is that following directions is key to success... with spelling and the rest of the curriculum!

2. Kindergarten is lovely. There are songs, coloring, snacks, blocks and nap time. All of this appeals to me, especially the nap time. I learned here that I would like to go back to kindergarten and I still like to color.

3. Our second grader is a conniver. Of course we knew he could be mischievous at home but we thought he was an angel-child when we let him spread his wings. Not so. His teacher very kindly told us that he likes to push the boundaries, see what he can get away with – like trading baseball cards between reading and arithmetic for example. That is not allowed. And so I was reminded once again that it's important to follow the rules and breaking them has consequences... in this case, there will be no more baseball cards for our budding little trader!

4. Our kindergartner has a great voice. And she’s not afraid to use it. This I knew. At home she's been known to shriek and scream like she's possessed. However, in school, she uses the power of her apparently well-tuned pitch quite differently. She confidently stands in front of her classmates and sings her name in the attendance song, softly crooning like a pro. Who knew?! I learned I should listen more closely and that there is a positive way to channel that voice!

5. We have to purchase a navy suit and white tie. Seriously. This is a requirement for those aforementioned Sacraments. On the upside, when you consider the hand-me-down possibilities with our up and coming Catholic triplets, it will surely be worn more than once. But really? A suit? A white tie?! I suppose I learned that sometimes you just have to smile and play the part. In this case, my sweet (can you be both sweet and conniving? I think so.) second grader will be assuming the role of a more fully-fledged member of our church community and I will be the proud mama.

That, perhaps, is my biggest takeaway from three nights in the classroom; I am indeed a proud mama. And, I still have a lot to learn!

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