Back to school — three little words that delight and at the same time take a few years off a poor parent’s life expectancy.

Back when my children were young, before they thought they had rights or could even conceive of a day that they would see me — not as a larger-than-life beacon of authority and truth, but as an unenlightened, not-so-bright, general poster child for all that is wrong with the world — I at least felt in control of the back-to-school process. This is because they needed me.

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