Saturday, September 8, 2012
He Ain't Heavy, He's My Backpack
My daughter's high school is almost exactly 1.5 miles away — a half a mile farther than the middle school was. It takes her 25 minutes to walk, which she does each morning, stopping to pick up a BFF along the way. This works out for everyone involved. The teens get some exercise and the moms have a little more free time for something nice and relaxing like reading the paper or taking a yoga class.
In theory, anyway.
More often than not, I wave good-bye as my daughter leaves the house and run up to my office to meet a deadline or prepare for a conference call. Regardless, it's nice to have the extra time.
Not this week, apparently.
School started the Tuesday after Labor Day, and I agreed to drive her. Then, that Wednesday, it was pouring, so she and her friend got a ride again. Thursday, they walked as planned. But, Friday, I was back in the driver's seat. Although the weather was beautiful and there was plenty of time, my daughter once again needed a lift.
You see, her backpack weighed 26 pounds.
I am not exaggerating. We actually put the thing on a bathroom scale to check. Inside were three loose leaf binders, her lunch, David Copperfield (all 950 pages of him) and two textbooks — Geometry and World Cultures — each the size of a telephone book. And not, btw, a telephone book from my adopted little seaside suburb. We're talking the Manhattan Yellow Pages here! Times two.
I don't get it. Granted, my memory ain't what it used to be. But, I'm pretty sure I had a single loose leaf with dividers back when I was in high school. My notes and assignments for all of my classes were in that one notebook. (The denim ones were particularly cool. One year, I had a blackwatch plaid one and another year I had a high-tech (high-tech for 1978, that is) hot pink vinyl one with pockets and velcro called, "The Organizer.")
Anyway, it was one teen: one notebook.
Today, my daughter's teachers each want a separate loose leaf. So, in addition to the three she was trying to transport Friday, there were four more in her locker. And, let me tell you, they aren't giving them away. I practically had to take out
a second mortgage to pay for our trip to Staples. Their 2-inch "Better Binder" is $11.49. Plus tax. My daughter swears that they are truly "better" binders.
And at that price ... they'd better be.
As mystified as I am by the notebook situation, I am equally confused about the ten-pound textbooks. These kids eat, breathe, sleep and live online. Isn't there some way that the material can be accessed electronically? First of all, it would mean that content could be updated and there wouldn't be obsolete textbooks in circulation. And, it would be more engaging for the students; the copy could be enhanced with links for further study, video and interactivities.
C'mon folks, let's save some trees.
And some teenagers' backs.