Back to School Night

BAck to school night picFor many people back to school time is a time of great opportunity.  Kids have grown up over the summer and there are new possibilities and new achievements to conquer in the new classroom.  Of course everyone is a bit nervous at first but the kids settle in quickly to the new routine and love their new teacher as if he/she is the only teacher they’ve ever had.  And then, a few weeks into the year everyone gathers at “Back to School Night” and you get to hear about all of the wonderful things the students are already learning.  You get to see cute projects that they’ve already done and see how much they will grow and learn over the year.  It is a happy time full of promise.

But not for all of us.

For me, Back to School Night sends me straight to the bar for a stiff drink.  I walk into the classroom and I immediately know which work belongs to my son.  It is the ONE picture in the class that is still done in scribbles and the handwriting is barely legible.  So while all the parents around me are swooning over the cute picture their child drew of the family and the four chapter book their son wrote about how much they love first grade, I sit quietly and feel inferior.  Then the teacher starts to speak.  She talks about all of the new things they will be learning over the year and how by the time they leave her in June they will all be fluent readers and mathematicians.  My anxiety rises as I consider that my son still hasn’t mastered last year’s material.  How is he ever going to survive?

Inevitably, one parent will ask what the teacher is going to do to make sure the children continue to feel challenged since their child is already coming home indicating that the work is too easy and he or she is bored.  Meanwhile my son is overwhelmed at every turn.  And my worry overcomes me.

The truth is that my son has come a long way.  He is learning in leaps and bounds and I am so proud of him for all he has already overcome.  The problem is that all of the others kids are growing and learning in leaps and bounds too.  How will he ever close the gap?   Will he ever catch up?  Will I ever walk into a room and have a difficult time determining his work because it looks just as polished as the others?  Sometimes I wish I could press the pause button for the other kids in the class.  I want everyone else to stop and let my son keep working until he catches up.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t wish other kids ill will.  I just want my son to get into a B
ack to the Future Delorean and zoom to his potential …and do it fast.

Because I think of how disillusioned I feel when I walk into the classroom for Back to School Night and it hits me:  He feels that way every day of his life. And so the hard work continues but perhaps after another stiff drink…

Kim Clary Cafiero

Kim is a stay at home mom to two boys. She came to parenthood through adoption and was a teacher and school administrator before taking the plunge to stay home full time. She lives in New Jersey.

Related posts:

academic achievement, adhd and school, Kim Clary Cafiero ·

About the author

Kim is a stay at home mom to two boys. She came to parenthood through adoption and was a teacher and school administrator before taking the plunge to stay home full time. She lives in New Jersey.


  1. Jenn @ One Thrifty Chick says:

    Wow, yes this was EXACTLY what I needed to read. I felt this same way on back to school night, as does my son. He’s now being kept in during recess for not completing his work, and I know this is not going to be an easy battle this year.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us all! It helps if we all stick together

  2. Kristen Cornejo says:

    My son completes the drawing, he’s actually great at drawing. But he has NO EFFING PATIENCE WHATSOEVER for coloring it in. I recognize his drawing by the fact that his is the only one still in black and white. 😉 I have asked all of his teachers to send home any uncompleted work. Sometimes I feel like we re-do the whole school day once he gets home. But he’s keeping up. Fingers crossed.

  3. Oh goodness, thank you for sharing this. I feel some of the same things. Back to school is no picnic for me or my boy. We wonder, what will this year be like? It does help to know we’re not alone.

  4. Jo says:

    YES YES YES A MILLION times YES!!! I have verbally spoken these exact words 150% felt this same way–and I could have written this post word for word but it would not be nearly as eloquent as you have done it. Also add conferences to this as well. Its so easy to go to back to school night and conferences and all the bs gatherings they have at school when you kid is skating through. When they are not–I think I’d rather go to the dentist and I HATE going to the dentist! I am very involved and we are doing every single thing we can to help my son. He is in the first year of middle school in 6th grade and we are all doing the best we can. But compared to all the other kids- it looks like we don’t do anything. This post is perfect!!!

  5. Susan says:

    Been there. Done that. Stop comparing your kid to other kids who have a different type of brain. I learned that as long as my child is progressing at whatever rate he has, as long as he is moving forward, that is great. My son is in fifth grade this year. When he puts his mind and a lot of effort into it, his writing is readable now (yeah!). He is actually doing the required reading at home for the first time, without having major meltdowns (yeah!). Get the help you can. Do what you can. Realize that your child is doing what they can, and screw the rest. Seriously. Give yourself a break.

    • Jenn says:

      When I read the article I didn’t feel that Kim was actually comparing her child to the other children in the classroom. I understood her article to be a comparison between the reality of her child and the successful child, with relatively few struggles, that she aspires for her child to become.

  6. klou says:

    Hang in there Kim. I bet your son is amazing at many things. With a mom who believes in him so strongly, he will find those things and shine brighter than you could ever imagine. I am not saying it isn’t hard, just that he will get there.

  7. Nicole says:

    My son is in the fifth grade, after years of feeling like I was being attacked on back to school nights, parent teacher conferences or anytime I was called to school for meetings we finally have a diagnosis. With this diagnosis of ADHD, ODD and anxiety I feel like I’m better prepared to deal with all the issues that are in front of us. Yes his desk is messy, his handwriting is sloppy, he may not be exactly on grade level for reading but we are doing our best. I can tell you that although some of his teachers may feel like he is too much work and he is a handful for them I know he is doing as well as possible. He tries to control his inability to focus, stay on task, sit still and follow directions and as long as he tries I’m happy. Kids are who they are and even scribbles are beautiful!

    • Carrie says:

      I kind of have the same issue. My son has ADHD and he actually has special help which is great. He unfortunately is behind but his special education teacher is awesome and she has helped him to come as far as he has. I just pray all the time that the subjects that he struggles with will get easier for him. We are very happy with his gains that he has made.

  8. lles86 . says:

    I decided to have my son redo kindergarten. I know how this feels exactly and I am hoping that will help him get on track with his class. I think all of us parents can agree that we don’t need our kids to be the best student in the class we just don’t want them struggling so much every day!


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