Today, my boys — and countless other kids — headed back to school. While I’m sure the Xbox will miss them terribly, it’s definitely time for them to re-engage their brains with something more taxing than figuring out whose turn it is to “kick some butt” at Madden15.
Yep, definitely time to get back to language arts and improving vocabulary.
But if the photo of them I took getting ready to head to the school bus is any indication, vocabulary is the least of our worries:
Our real worry might be that we need to reinforce what it means to behave in such a way that they come home safely each day. And by safely, I mean 1) in one piece, 2) with no notices from teachers of inappropriate behavior, 3) with no “where is your child’s homework?” messages, 3) as germ-free as possible, and 4) having not generated a call to me or their dad from anyone with the word ‘principal’, ‘counselor’, ‘police’, or ‘officer’ as part of a job title.
My young teenage boys tend to block out my voice — especially when the words “clean up”, “pick up”, “stop that”, “knock it off”, and “I better not have to tell you again” are used. But, I decided to review some important safety messages with them for the start of the school year anyway.
When it comes to…
- Cell phone safety: You do not need your cell phone with you to function effectively as a 7th or 8th grader in middle school.
- Yes, I know that your friends Jacob, Owen, Jake, Brett A, Brett B, Ben, Nick, Ty, and every other kid in your class gets to bring their cell phone to school because their parents are cool and I suck. But I need you to focus on school work when you are at school — not Snapchatting, Instagramming, Facebooking, and/or Tweeting.
- Nice try, but you won’t need the calculator on your cell phone, because I forked out $25 for a scientific calculator for you to use in Algebra.
- And you won’t need your cell phone to reach me in case of emergency. There is a phone in the principal’s office and the school bus drivers all have a cell phone. Besides, if I get a call from the principal’s office, it better be because you’re sick, or you’ve broken your leg, or you’ve just won the Nobel prize. You feelin’ me?
- Food safety: You need energy, and food is your fuel. At lunch, food is for eating and will provide the fuel you need to be alert and stay focused in the afternoon. And just to be clear, food is not for:
- throwing: the last thing I need is for you to use your PB&J sandwich as a projectile that accidentally lands on the nut-free table, jeopardizing any classmate with an allergy.
- smashing: if you make a mess, you will be cleaning it, not the janitor. Same rules apply at home: substitute ‘your mom’ for ‘the janitor’.
- trading: eat what ya brung (or in my kids’ cases – what ya bought).
- taking pictures of and posting to social media: see cell phone safety above.
- experimenting with: gross. Just gross.
- teasing people with: see cell phone safety above with regard to phone calls from principals and/or counselors.
- Germ safety: You are no longer a toddler shoving everything not nailed down into your mouth (with the exception of cheeseburgers and fries). This means your (most likely dirty) hands should be not touching everything within your ever-widening wing span. Here are some good rules for keeping germs where they belong, which — to be clear — is Not. On/In. You.
- Those dispensers of soap in the bathroom: USE THEM.
- Those dispensers of hand sanitizer located throughout the school: USE THEM.
- Those boxes of tissues we send in at the request of your teachers: USE THEM.
- Wet willies and spit balls: No. JUST NO.
- Crayons, markers, and other writing instruments: OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. You never know who else has been gnawing on them, what’s at the bottom of the bookbag where they have been residing, or — heaven help us! — what they are made of.
- Handling someone else’s cell phone: No. JUST NO.
- Sharing drinks at lunch: No. JUST NO.
- Coughing into the sleeve of your shirt and not into the face of your friend(s): YES! ALWAYS YES!
Have a safe school year boys. This will be great practice, because wait until you see the safety rules I’m working on for your next Summer vacation.