Vail Daily column: ‘Welcome back to school!’ |

Vail Daily column: ‘Welcome back to school!’

This wonderful phrase will be shouted a few thousand times today by smiling (and mostly sincere) faces and will undoubtedly be followed by just as many “Harrumphs” emanating from tilted heads with barely open eyes.

Such is the first day of public school in Happy Valley.

Once the teachers and administrators settle down, insecure heads will rise and the second leading question of the day will be, “How was your summer?”

I can only imagine (as my memory keeps fading with age) the multitude of responses heard throughout the day.

“Did you see (fill-in-the-blank)? Man, her (or his) ‘fill-in-the-blank’ really grew over the summer!”

“Did you see the new guy? He’s hot!”

“Did you see the new girl? She’s smokin’!”

“Dude, did you do any of the homework we were supposed to do over the summer? … No? Me neither.”

As the parent of a sophomore, my only thought is, “Great, school started, now deal with it and do your damn homework.”

Kids like to pretend going back to high school is stressful, but I’m telling you that, deep down inside, almost every one of them are as excited as the rest of us when we watch the first snowfall of the season.

Freshman: “OMG, everybody’s so big!”

Sophomore: “At least we’re not freshmen anymore.”

Junior: “I can’t wait until we’re seniors next year.”

Senior: “OMG, everybody’s so small!”

Sure, at this level they can’t help but act bummed, as school suddenly gets in the way of hanging out at people’s houses and other social stuff, but hey, they’re teenagers — it’s their job to project cynical angst.

But for us adults, the downsides are real.

Stupid responsibility requires us to no longer enjoy sleeping late in the morning because we have to make sure Mr. Happy is out the door on time, or worse, we have to drive them to school.

Then there’s the never-ending fundraisers, clothing that no longer fits and needs to be replaced, the frustration of items going to school and magically disappearing like socks in the dryer, buying school supplies for the first few weeks and, last but certainly not least, friggin’ homework.

And students, while I’m on a roll about dealing with stuff you never really have control over (except the homework, of course), please watch out for those desperately trying to be on student council and things along those lines. While most of you probably think they will be a lawyers or politicians, treating them as if they’re destined to be royalty or some such, realize that most of them will end up as homeowner board members and PTA leaders.

Anyway, here’s the best, and simplest, reason why you should be excited about going back to school: All of your expectations are well defined.

Unlike the real world (the one you have yet to join), in high school you know what is expected of you 99 percent of the time. There are never any real surprises; it is simply up to you whether to do the work or not.

Kissing up to new teachers and a few other students to make it through the year is nothing compared to kissing up to new co-workers and bosses in order to pay rent and put food on the table.

Soon enough, you’ll realize you love school and wish it never ended, so hey, enjoy the day!

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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