Or, I hereby hand my kids over to society to raise.

Words by Gary Pearson

back to school imageForget January 1—the real new year starts in September when the kids go back to school! It’s a magical time of year, which as a kid, was symbolized for me by a brand new set of Laurentien Coloured Pencils—remember the ones with the snowy cabin scene on the box? So much promise in every colour! By October 1, many of those pencils were chewed, lost or broken, but let’s not dwell on that.

Here’s why I love Back to School most of all. As a freelancer, I often work at home. It’s hard to get things done with kids around. They always want things from me like food or clean clothes. I should have said this off the top, but I’m a terrible parent. I was never cut out for this job. Getting the kids back to school makes their development somebody else’s problem.

Whenever we hear about strikes or lockouts with our schools, parents get upset. Many think teachers are overpaid or get too many holidays and so on. Not me. I get angry because if my kids aren’t in school, I’m supposed to raise them—and I don’t have a clue!

You know how they say “Parents know what’s best for their kids”? Well, not in this case. If I was responsible for them 24 hours a day you can bet there’d be lots of fast food and afternoons spent watching monster movies. What kind of education is that? Teachers, with their understanding of tough subjects like math and sex education, are godsends to a guy like me.

I remember when my eldest went to junior kindergarten for the first time. I shook her teacher’s hand, loudly declaring for all to hear, “Having done all I can for four years, I hereby hand over the raising of this child to society.” The other parents looked at me strangely, I guess because they hadn’t thought of saying it.

Everything I know about raising kids comes from TV sitcoms. If it didn’t come up on Family Ties or The Cosby Show, then I have no idea how to handle it. I wish I was Cliff Huxtable, except for his taste in sweaters. Instead of Dr. Huxtable, my kids get a mishmash of contradictory advice. One day I’m like that evil Tiger Mom who teaches her kids to eat anyone who gets in their way, and the next I’m a hippie parent who thinks the kids could benefit from a day of sitting under a tree and daydreaming.

Typical exchanges at my house:

Teen Daughter: “Dad, can I have a ride to the school dance?”
Me: “No. You can talk to boys when you’re 28 years old.”
11-Year-Old Son: “Hey Dad, check out this automatic machine gun online. Should I order it?”
Me: “Well, I don’t know… how much is it?”

So yeah, Back to School is the best thing for all concerned. I’ll get my kids the Laurentien Coloured Pencils, and I’ll put my faith in their teachers for two reasons. One, I think they’re good at teaching and two, we can all see that I’m not.

Gary Pearson is a TV writer for This Hour Has 22 Minutes. His new e-book novel Slapshot of Love is coming soon. Follow him on Twitter: @captainpearson.