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A new year at school

Paul Banas
Author Paul Banas
Submitted 24-09-2009

It’s always amazing how quickly a new year at school starts, with its new and old routines. Today, again, I rustled through cupboards and the fridge trying to find healthy lunch food that will actually get eaten, and then to find non-plastic containers to put it all in. For some it’s the laundry, for others, the dishwasher. For me the existential reminder is the daily attempt to fill the lunchbox. I think it’s hard for most parents to think of their kids not eating lunch or suffering through bad lunch, but it’s always hard to find a vegetable they will eat cold. They don’t eat bananas, at least at school. And to make matters worse, the good old PB&J, is verboten in most schools until college.

While I silently complained through the summer about the ever-changing schedule and the repetition of “What are we going to do today, Daddy?” the school year has new carpooling challenges from swimming to piano to soccer. Probably better though, and at least different. Now, we’re in a longer schedule with greater routine and more performances and matches.

And yet it’s still daunting to me and my kids. For them, it’s now a countdown to Halloween and Christmas. Summer break is beyond their time horizon comprehension. Still, it appears endless since they have so much to learn and memorize, and their progress is measured by what letters they can recognize or where they are in the multiplication tables. Our adult schedules seem more arbitrary and scattered and it’s hard to know how to evaluate our progress. By where we are in our Netflix Queue? Whether we have all the kids’ flu shots done? Whether we get our holiday cards out on time? Life in middle age can seem rudderless at times, and maybe more so in comparison to our kids who know so little but have such specific steps to take to make it to the next level.