School Days, Here Again

It’s September. That means transitioning from vacation to school. Hopefully, it will also mean having a few more uninterrupted conversations with my wife now that the Miracles of Christ are back in school.

School has returned.

Everyone is adjusting to the new schedules. Some children are dealing with the harsh reality of not waking up at noon. Other children are adjusting to a morning of getting dressed and leaving the house instead of rolling out of bed and going on autopilot to the television, generating just enough energy to stay vertical until they reach the couch.

I’m adjusting, too. I need to make sure I’m up early enough to get the little cherubs out of bed and on their way to the car or bus. I’m helping children get their breakfast and find their things so they can be on time for school. The first day of school was tough. Kids had tons of supplies to see themselves through the school year. Usually, we can get to the school a day or two before the official first day and drop the things off so children can just walk to their classrooms on Day One and not worry about anything else but making it to the classroom and seeing who they were sitting next to.

It didn’t happen this time. Oh, well. I dropped off The Oppressed and The Boy with their gear. Luckily, things fit in their bags and they were able to remain upright on their way into the building. I went home and did my work, patiently waiting for the time I could return to the school and find out about their day.

That glorious time came and I eagerly waited at the school parking lot for the doors to open and release the children from the temporary adult oppressors to the permanent oppressors. The Oppressed was in relatively good spirits and gave about as much information as I could expect. The Boy, on the other hand, was none too happy. Apparently, his teacher took his things from him as soon as he got to his room and locked them up on him. The Boy didn’t understand why the teacher had to take his things away from him without any explanation. I decided to find out more about this and asked The Oppressed, who just happened to be an alumna of this teacher. It turns out this teacher allows the students to keep what they need in their desks and the excess stock is kept in a closet. When the student needs something, the teacher will fetch it from the closet, thereby making sure that everything is accounted for, nothing gets lost, and the student has everything they need for a successful school year. The Boy didn’t exactly see it that way and was upset with his teacher for days because she, “stole” the things he needs for school. The Oppressed and I tried to explain what happened. The Boy said she should have spoke to him about it and asked him if it was alright to take his things before she took it. After all, The Boy reminded us, it’s his stuff.

Despite my inexperience and lack of know-how when it comes to parenting (I just live here with my children), I have learned there are times when it is best to just let kids sulk and stew about the cruel lot cast upon them by fate. At this point, all I can do is patiently wait for The Boy to need something and, at that time, the teacher will go to the closet and retrieve what he needs from the supply closet. Maybe then he will understand the grand scheme of the teacher and her classroom.

Time will tell. As of now, there are other things to deal with. Another round of the Homework Wars will be descending upon us. There are flag-football, cheerleading, and cross-country practices to attend. Wife and I have our own jobs. I know I said something about having uninterrupted conversations with my wife while the children are away, but there may be other things lurking in the shadows and waiting to snatch whatever chance I have to talk to her without someone or something jumping in and fill what I thought was an opening.

I Want Breakfast (I Don’t Want That)

My children are unhappy with the choices before them when it comes to meals. There are always better options. I just don’t share them with my poor, unhappy children. I keep them locked away while presenting them with the swill they are forced to consume every day.

One morning, The Oppressed wanted Carnation Instant Breakfast, just not the disgusting vanilla we had tucked away in the pantry. I asked what was wrong with the vanilla. She told me, “It’s disgusting.” She wanted chocolate. I told her vanilla was fine and there’s nothing wrong with vanilla. Here we have another obvious example of how I do not love my children. A truly loving parent would go to the store and buy chocolate or strawberry or another flavor of Carnation Instant Breakfast. One that a child would really like.

Vanilla Carnation Instant Breakfast
Disgusting

Much to her chagrin, I informed The Oppressed I would not be buying another flavor of Carnation Instant Breakfast until what we had was finished. This upset the child. It was another vivid example of how I do not love my children and do not see that they are fed and taken care of. She wanted a flavor other than vanilla. She really wanted “Carnation” and now she can’t have it. I remind her that’s not true. She can still have it. “I’m not drinking disgusting vanilla!” she exclaimed.

This brings us to my favorite part of the mealtime stories I share with you. We have cereal. None of the cereals we have taste good. They’re disgusting. We have granola bars. Disgusting. There is fruit. There is always plenty of fruit at our house. Disgusting. Disgusting. Disgusting. Everything is gross. She wants Carnation Instant Breakfast and she doesn’t want vanilla.

Chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast
Acceptable

I inform my children the car will be leaving soon and they will be going to school with or without breakfast. The Oppressed chokes down a granola bar. A nasty, disgusting granola bar and washes it down with a glass of water. The juice we have is disgusting and she won’t drink milk. Disgusting. We drive to school. The Oppressed curses my name for making her eat disgusting subpar, un-tasty food. She asks when I will buy more Carnation. I will do so when the children finish what we already have. She looks forward, hoping someone will take one for the team and choke down the vanilla Carnation so the entire household (her) can get something tasty to have for breakfast soon.

Teaching the Children

Homeschooling for another day.
I try to help. They say, “No way!”
Instead they’d rather run away.

The start of yet another
productive morning

A morning meeting. Please sit still.
It’s important. Can’t you chill?
They leave the room. Run down the stairs.
They don’t sit still. They won’t. They can’t.
I’m just glad they’re wearing pants.

The door’s wide open. Of course it is.
It’s cold. Who cares? Not my kids.
I give a chase. Run down the flight.
I’m pouring something strong tonight.
Maybe bourbon. Maybe scotch.
I don’t know. It’s not yet lunch.

This may be needed tonight…

There are meetings. Log on Zoom,
Then get my kids back to their rooms
And sit them down. Now, pay attention.
It’s important. Did I mention
That what is being said, you’ll need
To finish your assignment, see?
Now, be good children and learn how.
It’s too early to think scotch right now.
Sit right down. There’s nothing to it.
You must anyway. Just sit and do it.

… or this.

“But, Dad,” they say. “It’s way too hard.
“I’m bored. Where’s my Pok√©mon cards?”

I don’t know and I don’t care.
I can’t hear ’bout life’s unfair.
You need to do your work today.
Get it done, then you can play.

They settle down. They read and write.
Then run like that word I can’t type.
I know we’re all adults right here,
But what if a little one sneaks near?
Mom! Dad! What does that say?
Nothing, Dear. Now go and play.

Their work is done. Lord, what a chore.
They flee from academic bores.
Again, forget to close the door.

Another day is done, at last.
The evening will pass by so fast.
I put the books and pens away.
I think of what comes the next day.
More of the same. More protesting.
More resistance and more jesting.
But I will help them, yet again.
I’ll help them see it to the end.
Reading, writing, Uncle Sam.
Daddy sure could use a dram.

Decisions, decisions

Heading for the Homestretch

Another day of forced fun.

Our T-ball season draws to a close. I am proud of the improvements my team made over this brief and unique season. If anything, I hope these troopers will take at least one thing they learned this year and apply it to their game as they grow as people and baseball players.

There were plenty of teachable moments and growing pains this year. I needed to remind players that if they were on one side of the field, there is no need to run to the other side and chase the ball. This was especially important for the first baseman, who somehow thought they could catch and throw at the same time.

Speaking of first base, that position taught my team the importance of sharing. Everyone wanted to play first base and there were usually two or three people congregating and explaining why they needed to play first for that inning. The future union rep was always in the middle of the discussion and explained why everyone else was wrong.

Everyone got out and got some exercise, including me. I got my share of aerobics in by dodging wayward bats and balls coming in without warning. I was also running after the pack of children who needed to tackle each other so someone could throw the ball. Ah, yes. Throwing. How could I forget my little shotput thrower. Every ball hit to them was a chance to show off his arm. It was a good arm, I have to admit. I was constantly reminding Kid Kannon that the object was to throw the ball to first base and not see how many trees they could clear.

The Boy was on my team this year. He has joined The Oppressed in giving up hitting for life. He has no use for it. Hates it and would like to see baseball banned from the world forever.

Yes, it certainly has been a fun-filled year. No more chats with individual players about what they’re having for dinner that evening. No more rundowns of how their parents are at another field to watch a sibling play. No more close calls about how they couldn’t find their glove at home but they remembered they had it in their room and they ran to get it and still made it to the field. No more knowing glances from the other coaches. No more being reminded by my players of who and where there players are. I go back to dealing with five children and continue to show some semblance of organization and balance.