I have never watched one of those extreme fighting matches on cable TV. However, I can’t imagine it being worse than wrestling the last Trapper Keeper notebook from another last minute school supply shopper. In this corner … the Wal-Mart Wrangler! And in this corner … the Kmart Clubber! Bring It On!

I ended up purchasing more than $175 worth of school supplies this year for our four kids. Each child received a grade-specific supply list identifying the need for paper, pencils, glue, tissues, rulers, pens, markers, Post-its, folders, baby wipes, calculators, protractors, parachutes, sleeping bags, water bottles, and a USB Flash Drive. Now ring up another $120 for gym uniforms and other miscellaneous fees for my oldest one attending sixth-grade at the Forest Park Middle School. I remember attending the first day of school with only six brown paper bags and a pair of scissors so that I could get a jump on creating my own book covers. My mom always told me that education would be the best investment in my life. I just didn’t think it would require a commission fee.

Yes sir, I would like to request an official moment of silence as we count away another set of summer days. I have filed away the district pool pass, exited stage left the Wednesday $1 movie matinees, plugged in the Radio Disney alarm clock, set the TiVo for the new season of “Cyberchase,” sorted away the shorts and tank tops, and made one last run to Steve & Barry’s to power shop for the instant, affordable, fall wardrobe. September cometh!

The focus of going back to school has always had parents rushing to prepare their kids for the annual academic adventure. Unfortunately, most parents don’t understand that this educational journey is a roundtrip made for the entire family. It’s as important for the parents to saddle up for the experience as it is for the offspring. Even though I let the professionals take over from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., I am equipped with the desire (and a Starbucks mocha latte frapachino) to resume supervision duties from 3 p.m. to 8 a.m.

In the past few years, there has been a great deal of focus placed on the standardized test scores our Forest Park school children receive. I believe that equal (if not greater) emphasis should be on the test scores of the Forest Park parents. So go and borrow that fancy calculator you just brought for your seventh-grader. You will need it to tally up the results of your performance.

Here we go:

  • 100 points for creating two hours of no TV, no radio, no phone, and no interruptions for homework/study.
  • 100 points for reading to or with your child for 20 minutes (Parents of sixth-graders and higher gain points for asking your child to summarize what they have read or learned today).
  • 100 points for checking homework for completeness, even if you do not know the subject matter.
  • 100 points for getting kids in bed between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. to allow for 10 hours of rest.
  • 150 points for providing breakfast. Take a bonus of 50 points for not serving Pop-Tarts, Fruit Loops, or potato chips.
  • 100 points for getting your child to school on time, i.e. 10 minutes early.
  • 100 points for visiting your child’s school at least once a month (PTA/PTO, concerts/plays, school board meeting, fundraising sales, career day, field trip chaperone, sporting events, teacher conferences, etc).
  • 250 pts for positively encouraging your child to give their best effort. (Instead of teaching them to fear failure, try teaching them not to fear success.)

Okay, how did you do? Anything less than 1,000 points is unacceptable. The good part is this is only the pre-test. You have a chance to take the real test on your first day of school.