Parents rejoice as free daycare begins early

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Traffic on major road arteries will be affected by Aug. 7, when most metro districts will have started school. By then, well over 700,000 metro Atlanta students will have returned to school. (BIG BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM)

Few things delight the modern parent as much as hustling the kids off to the first day of school.

I was once again reminded of this while getting a sandwich. Two women in the slow-moving line were exchanging high-fives and hip bumps when I asked what the heck was going on.

“School starts Monday!” said one joyous lady.

“Are you excited because your child will be enriched by even more knowledge bestowed upon him by the DeKalb County school system?” I asked.

“Uh, no. I’m excited because it’s time for some ‘me’ time,” she replied through a smile brighter than the fires that consumed Icarus. Then she mentioned something about a pedicure and I fled with my grilled cheese.

I didn’t even have time to ask for an extra pickle.

As a slow yellow bus hindering your daily commute may have already informed you, school is back in session in many areas of metro Atlanta. It starts pretty much everywhere else Monday.

In my neck of the woods, champagne glasses will be clinking Sunday night. Bartenders will be slinging mimosas Monday morning.

Has it always been this way? Did my own dear mother enjoy spending less time with me after a long summer?

Time and a growing penchant for glorifying the past fogs all memory, but in retrospect mom’s plan may have been to get me killed.

I still have the picture of my first day of school in Berrien County. Mom dressed me in what appears to be the rainbow-themed overalls of some kinda lilliputian Midtown farmer. Nowadays that getup would make me quite popular but in the early 1970s it resulted in nigh-constant cajoling and schoolyard scraps.

The first thing I remember learning in kindergarten, even though my shoes were affixed to my tiny feet via the magic known as Velcro, was how to tie my shoes. On the days I don’t wear flip flops, I still use that skill today.

I also learned about reading, math, properly feigning sudden illness and other things adults need to survive the workplace.

Another thing we learned in olden times is something of a dying art: penmanship. If you ever want to be discouraged, ask a young person to write a sentence with the crude utensil we call the pencil but they call the “pointy wood chunk.”

With the advances in technology — almost every kid has access to a computer, tablet, smartphone or PlayStation — you’d think schools would now be cranking out droves of 15-year-old engineers. Some probably do.

For the most part, however, my intense lunchroom research indicates Americans spend more on education and students learn less.

Just the other day, a highly-educated 20-something-year-old told me Britney Spears’ “Toxic” could go toe-to-toe with anything created by The Beatles.

You can’t debate people that delusional. Sometimes just have to pick up your grilled cheese and get the hell out of there.


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