Ah, back-to-school time!
That glorious season of fresh pencils and new beginnings, when your kid’s clothes aren’t yet covered in unsightly stains of indeterminate origin, and anything seems possible.
Sure, every year of your child’s education until now has been a sorry blur of slapped-together projects, nearly missed deadlines, disappeared socks, hastily eaten junk food, and unhinged hollering. Each June, you crawl over the finish line feeling inadequate, exhausted, and a little broken, dragging your precious angel, kicking and screaming, along with you.
But this year will be totally different!
You will be an amazing parent, starting now. Like, mommy-blogger amazing. You will be so creative and crafty that Martha Stewart will be hitting you up for tips. You will be so on top of everything that Real Simple magazine will be begging to feature put-together you, your stylish, well-adjusted kid, and your quirky, brilliantly organized and astonishingly dust-bunny-free home. Other parents will see this and feel like as big a loser as you once did.
Mornings will be heaven, because nights will be early. Using the gentle reasoning that never worked before but will definitely get through now that he’s three months older, you will explain to your child that sleep is his friend, and that this text/Fortnite battle/Pokemon card inventory might wait until tomorrow, or even the weekend.
He will see your logic, and, after reading his novel purely for pleasure and not because the teacher checks his reading log, he will go swiftly to sleep, so that when his alarm rings, he will leap joyfully from his bed, eager to fill his head with knowledge, and not the slightest bit surly.
You will stay on top of the laundry, so that he is not pulling a succession of shorts from his dirty hamper on Fridays and sniffing them to determine which pair he can best redeploy. You will provide him with nourishing, homemade breakfasts — a bacon and spinach frittata, perhaps, or a charming sunrise scene composed of plated fruit and greek yogurt drizzled with honey, instead of the choc-chip freezer waffles the old you (sleep-starved and sometimes surly) surrendered to.
And oh, the lunches! Goodbye curly-edged turkey and mayo on stiff white supermarket bread. This will be the year of the bento box, each BPA-free compartment filled with something nutritious and adorable: SunButter sandwiches cut into heart shapes, cucumbers whittled into giraffes, whole-wheat pita pockets stuffed with hummus, sprouts and lots of lettuce (on which he will suddenly no longer gag). Be gone, Goldfish! Out, out, damned Oreos!
No longer will you lurch for these processed poisons as you race around the house in your pajamas, trying to get on top of your workday while coaxing your dawdling, toothbrush-averse charge out the door. Your healthful masterpieces will be prepared ahead of time, on lazy Sunday afternoons perhaps, food in all the colors of the rainbow portioned out into reusable bags, arrayed in neat trays, in a fridge free of dried soy sauce and juice spots.
There will be no desperate, last-minute searches for glasses or gloves, no more panicked hours spent searching through the recycling bin or the stomach-turning world under the beds. Everything will have its place: Behold the handsome wicker basket where cold-weather gear lives; hello, coathooks, on which jackets that once sat in puddles on the floor will now be found at all times. You will dispatch immediately the reams of paper that flood into your home each afternoon, returning signed permission slips the next day and recycling the rest, or setting them aside for your charming craft projects.
You will note important kid dates on your large and darling kitchen calendar. (Perhaps it will have a bric-a-brac border!) That way, you will never be seized by blind panic as your child comes home to tell you his presentation on, say, Alexander Hamilton is due in two days.
No longer will you have to stand over him as he writes his essay, threatening to take away his iPad forever or bribing him with candy to make him sit there and finish for God’s sake please honey and it’s not like you don’t have your own deadlines to worry about.
You will have ample time to fashion a convincing costume with him, and it will be authentic and cute — not some cheap tri-corner hat and shedding wig you ordered via same-day delivery because you’re so spacy and distracted by work that the only thing left to do at this late stage is to throw money at the problem while lecturing him about leaving things until the last minute, something you never — make that always — do.
This will be the year of prepacked backpacks, virtuous after-school snacks, and homework completed hours before dinnertime. Which, by the way, will be family time, consisting of real food, eaten at an actual table, and not dinosaur-shaped chicken-ish nuggets scoffed after baseball practice, all of you standing at the kitchen counter like ornery farm animals at a trough.
Also, you’re going to start taking care of yourself to set a good example, eating better, going right from drop-off to the gym, even showing up for school events with clean hair once in a while, because that’s what parents who have their acts together do.
And you will definitely have your act together.
Man, it’s going to be great.
And this year, just like every year, it is absolutely, positively going to happen.