the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Advice to Children Going Back to School that Your Parents Won’t Tell You

Don’t be a bully. For purely selfish reasons. In the past, there were actually some advantages to being a bully.  You could get what you want, and after graduation, you would never encounter your victims again.  But  now, in the age of Facebook, these bitter adults will passive-aggressively “friend” you 25 years later just to torment you back, forcing you to listen to their endless updates about their therapy sessions on “self-esteem.”

It is only in porno films that the hot social studies teacher wants to have sex with any of her dorky male high school students. Don’t waste your time. Study for your SAT instead.

Here’s another lie.   You will NEVER use geometry in real life.   The whole subject is included in the curriculum because of a massive lobbying effort from the American Geometry Association.

Sure, dancing the “Tarentela” with Jamie Schwartz at the Third Grade Ethnic Dance festival will seem “gross” in third grade, but just wait until you see a photo of her in a bikini 30 years later.  Your perception of the event will change forever.

If you are going to skip a class to hang out a Dairy Queen, at least skip gym class.  No one really cares about gym class.

If you can afford it, do not take the school bus to school.   If you must use the school bus, good luck.  And also remember the words of Kelly Clarkson, “What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger.”

Never say to yourself, “I can’t wait until I’m out of high school so I don’t have to deal with all these cliques and popularity contests.”  Ha, Ha.  That’s so funny, I don’t think I even have to explain this one.

Real adults don’t drink beer or smoke cigarettes to be cool.   Real adults drink coffee.

Your sex education teacher will never tell you the most important piece of information for your future sexual happiness — you and your sexual partner will mostly argue over the dishes.

If your mother gives you good cookies in your lunch box, share it with others. Friends are the most important part of school.

Don’t tell your parents EVERYTHING. It’s none of their business.

Enjoy playing with blocks in kindergarten.   It’s all downhill from there.

Become the editor of your yearbook. It will help you in the future.

If you cheat, you are only cheating yourself.  But if you cheat successful,  for a very long time, you become a CEO.

Your parents are hypocrites in everything they tell you, but listen to them anyway.

The school nutritionist is not paid by the school district.  She is an employee of the Monsanto Corporation. You will not understand the importance of this until you are older, but take note of it now.

Girls will always be two years ahead of boys in social maturity, and this will never change.

What sneaker you wear to school is more important than what car your parents drive.

When writing your report on the “People of Cuba,” remember to change every fifth word as you plagiarize Wikipedia.

Your teacher doesn’t like your parents any more than you do.

One day, in the future, you will meet a woman at a party. She will be drunk, her blouse open to her navel, and ranting about President Obama being a Muslim. She will tell you that she is a third grade teacher.  Your life will suddenly pass in front of your eyes. You will wonder about every single teacher who ever inspired you, and the fact that you never really “knew them” as individuals.  You will question the fundamental ideas of knowledge, education, and personal identity.

And finally, the hardest lesson for you to accept, so better you learn it now – School NEVER ENDS.


  1. tracy@sellabitmum

    Raising hand as the dorky high school junior riding the school bus..le sigh.

    LOVE this advice. All of it!

  2. Loukia

    This was AWESOME, Neil!

  3. Amanda

    Brilliant. Except I might also say, many times, your parents loathe your teacher as much as you do—accept quietly that sometimes you are on the same team.

  4. Bon

    school never ends. nope. oh god. save me.

  5. Sherry Carr-Smith

    This may be the best school-related advice ever.

    Yearbook Editor, 1992-93,

  6. Angella

    Best back to school post EVER.

  7. Joanna Ciolek

    “Girls will always be two years ahead of boys in social maturity”.. and this divide will grow exponentially as you age.

  8. UpsideUp Laurie

    Brilliant. Every word.

  9. Marty

    Im going to make sure to give my boys the good cookies and teach them to share. That’s awesome advice!

  10. Doug

    Sorry, Neil. Geometry is thinking and problem-solving. So I can’t really cosine your logic.

    • Neil

      The best comment on Facebook was someone said that you need geometry to play Angry Birds effectively.

  11. Roxanna (miguelina)

    Good advice — but geometry is totally useful. How else will you figure out how much mulch to buy for your suburban yard?

    • Neil

      The Suburban Yard App.

  12. Kim Z

    Brilliant. I would keep a copy of this so I can give it my kids when they start school, but I don’t want them to fail geometry or plagiarize (unless the amount of words they change is all of them).

  13. Heather

    My dad taught at my high school. He wouldn’t let me ride with him to school and made me ride the bus of shame. It was horrific. He also would come and sit by me at lunch if he heard that I was not behaving. It was rough…

    And… I think they should teach kids statistics instead of geometry. It makes way more sense for their future endeavors in research.

    • Kim Z

      Agreed about the importance of statistics. I never appreciated the value of math until college, which was my first real introduction to statistics and decision science.

  14. The Honourable Husband

    Girls will always be two years ahead of boys in social maturity. That’s why so many of them marry their cat.

  15. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    Love this post. LOVE IT!

  16. Glennia

    I have to agree with the “geometry is useful” crowd. It’s algebra that needs to go.

    Being a yearbook editor will definitely help you keep track of who all these people are who will want to friend you on Facebook in the future.

  17. Amy

    All the nerdy guys I went to high school and college with all turned out to be hot later in life. And all the popular ones back then are now overweight and have nasty personalities. I just got more awesome over the past 27 years since I got my diploma 🙂

  18. sarah piazza

    this is good. i may show it to my kids.

  19. Stacey

    Loved this. My favorite was “Enjoy playing with blocks in kindergarten. It’s all downhill from there.”

    I spent most of kindergarten in the principal’s office.

  20. Selfish Mom

    This is almost too much awesomeness for one post. Where were you when I was ten?

  21. Laughing Abi

    Real adults drink coffee. So true. Love this post.

  22. Nance

    Oh, Neil. If only kindergartners still played with blocks! Now they read and do math (even some form of The Dreaded Geometry!).

    The rest, it goes without saying, is absolutely true. And as a 30-year veteran teacher, I can tell you that without exception this one (Your teacher doesn’t like your parents any more than you do.) is brilliant. Good job.

  23. Alma

    love this advice. I am a mom of the new dork in 6th grade from NY. Making friends is hard for him. I will pack extra cookies.

  24. Jennifer

    I used Geometry in real life.

    I wanted to find out if a bottle of wine would fit into a pretty box I was going to order from eBay. It was slightly too short longways and very short sideways… but perhaps it would fit diagonally?

    I remembered: A squared + B squared = C squared.

    The wine fit.

  25. Jamie@SouthMainMuse

    “Don’t tell your parents EVERYTHING. It’s none of their business.”

    As a parent of an 19 year old — that’s fine we me. In fact, that’s the way I prefer it. (Though if it is an issue really troubling him, I’m glad he still confides in Dad. He thinks I’m stupid — because we are a lot alike. Things that bother him about me are traits we share. A fact he would never admit.)

  26. Ann

    Very well said. The bus thing – I totally agree.

  27. the muskrat

    Your wisdom here…it’s great.

  28. Sharron

    And add algebra to geometry and that is perfect advice all round, neither one of these pointless mathematics exercises ever helped me balance a pay check with my outgoings.

  29. teahouseblossom

    Neil, this is awesome. And this is why I heart your page!

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