Not like in the movies

Morning y’all – it was the morning we have all been waiting for for the past 9 weeks.  Kids are returning to school.  Mums and dads will have all the time in the World to relax, do adult stuff, sit on sofa, and smile with freshly brewed coffee while kids are off to learn the common core … which by the way sucks!  There, I said it!

Reality couldn’t be further from the imaginary story TV ads and movies will all have us believe, which shows every morning as a magical experience.  Kids come flying down the stairs singing Mary Poppins, fully dressed in latest fashion, laughing at each other, hugging and kissing us (parents) and ready to take on the day; eager to jump on the yellow big bus to school and learn stuff.

To most new parents, I hate to burst your bubble, but that shit only happens in fairy tales!

welcome-back-to-schoolOur back to school “adventure” actually started the evening before, with a quiet family post Labor Day dinner.

Obviously it was rather chaotic dinner as we also tried to go through the endless check list for each of our three kids and planning a few trips to the local Walmart.  You can always trust Walmart to have everything needed for school start. But seriously, how many pencils, glue sticks, erasers, tissues, zip lock bags does a 2nd grader need?

The conspirator in me would state that the class teacher is stockpiling supplies and selling them on eBay to support some shady activities.  I do not have evidence of such a crime 🙂

Showers, clothes laid out, school bags packed and alarm clocks set.  We were ready … not!

Sure enough, on the day of days, the kids are not eager to get out of bed.  All summer they woke before the sun even got eyes, and now they can barely walk.  It’s like a small hoard of zombies walking/crawling down the stairs, uttering simple commands “fooooood”.  All while barely opening their eyes.

Once food had been somewhat consumed, it was time to get dressed.  Suddenly the kids had to look at the weather, wind in the trees, mood rings, color matching, spider nests, migration of butterflies, just to make sure that they would send right impressions on this day, day of days.

T-10 min before the front of our house would look like Grand Central, with three buses stopping our three kids, going to three different schools.  I did consider calling the local cops to get them to direct traffic, but figured the bus company had the routine down to a fine art.

T-1 min and now my wife has gone from understanding Sound of Music nanny style, to female version of John Wick minus the dead dog and killings … but calm and assertive, shouting directions to the kids to get their a*** in gear and run to bus stop.

I calmly walked to the curb with my son, a few minutes before the bus was scheduled to arrive.  15 minutes after the scheduled time, and still no bus, it started to rain.  But, it was first day of school and delays would be expected.

A further 15 minutes and I was not too sure I could blame it on back-to-school-traffic.  After a further 5 minutes I called the bus company, not to bite their incompetence heads off, but merely to state that I was patiently waiting, only to be told that the bus driver went on a road trip and forgot to swing his bus my way.  Thankfully he was sending a spare bus.

Low and behold, the spare bus came up the road, only to drive past our house, but the driver did waive.  at T+55 min, I rang the bus company again, explained that driver waived at me and never returned.  A few screams were heard in the background, as the guy on the phone shouted at the missing driver.  Magically, the bus arrived 3 mins later.

Day 1 of back-to-school was finally kicked off, now off to work 🙂

School Lunches & Grey Hairs

Having three kids keeps you busy.  Very busy.  There’s always laundry, homework, showers, cleaning up toys and rooms.  And, then you of course have the other daily / weekly routines such as sports, friends and shopping.

It never was an easy adventure to be a parent, but it is amazing how much we can accomplish while sleep deprived. Whoever said having kids wouldn’t change you was completely disillusioned and I doubt he ever participated in the awesome responsibilities.

That brings me to my next topic – school lunches.

I bloody hate seeing all the these ridiculously perfect families on social media, who have oodles of time, and patience, to create the perfect lunch boxes.  Seriously, who have time to prepare mini sushi look-alike lunches, design cuddly sandwiches shaped like cute lions, serve small fried dish consistent of slightly fried vegetables, neatly sliced, mixed with fresh caught salmon.  Are you bloody serious!

Instagram, Facebook and other social networks are devil’s spawn.  How on earth can people find time to have these awesome creations?  I wish I could make my kids’ school lunches that fantastic, but I rarely find time to make my own.

My wife and I work 8.30 – 17.30 jobs.  We have to do the daily chores, play with our kids, do homework, and prepare the various meals.  There’s little or no energy left to spend designing next day’s lunch menu.  Kids will get the usual suspects; left-over food, peanut-butter jam, ham-cheese, chicken-cheese tortilla or other combinations.

We refuse to give them money for school lunches, as those are not healthy at all.  At least our lunches have fresh vegetables, meats, cheeses, and their snacks normally consist carrots, tomatoes, or pretzels.

That said, in recent weeks we have really made an effort making the school lunches more appealing.  It is important for the kids to open their lunch boxes, without fears of being laughed at or accused of eating items that looks like they are from another planet.

My latest creation was Lego shaped egg muffins.  Not the boring Eggos like in “Stranger Things‘, but little delicous egg muffins made with spinach, ham, cheese and eggs.

lunchI found our Lego baking shape and made a few awesome Lego shaped muffins.  And I must admit, and kids were not bribed, but they loved them.  It was probably the shapes, but I also hope they tasted nice.

These suckers were created out of normal parenting hours, after 10 pm, which is normally the time we start drooling on the sofa.  Actually, that happens around 9.13pm.

It’s tough being a parent, but I would not change it for anything in the World!

We parents do need to demand better school lunches on all schools.  It is not right that kids get pizza, fries, ice cream, sodas, chips etc.  This only encourages shitty food and increases the risk of childhood obesity.  Demand better food in schools!

Jamie, help us!  We need to start the food revolution … again.

Speed Dating Parent Teacher Meetings

The school year has flown by.  I can’t believe that there’s only a few months left until the summer break.  It seems as yesterday when my daughter started her middle school adventures.

In true school spirit, we have to meet the teachers every three months to really assess how our children are progressing … or not.

The first semester was awesome.  Our daughter was initially placed in AIS, much to my dismay, to assist her with math.

Academic Intervention Services are services required by New York State which provide additional instruction to students in English and/or mathematics based upon performance.

Nobody puts baby in the corner, but despite doing so, she showed them all how wrong they were.  She was was added to B honours roll in first semester – and to my absolutely delight, jumped to A honours roll in March.

She obviously has my wife’s intelligence, and good lucks.  Not too sure what genes she got from me.  Probably the rock music and playing games parts.

My wife and I went to the first parent / teacher meeting, but due to other parenting needs at the house, I went to the recent one alone while my wife looked after the kids.

speed-datingI was amazed with the new format of parent / teacher meetings.  I do not remember it being like that previously.  It was like speed dating, just with teachers.  You have a defined amount of time with one teacher, as soon as you get to the interesting parts, then you get pushed to the next teacher.

Ahead of the teacher conference, which they call it nowadays, we had to select specific times to meet key teachers.  It’s a bit like an interview for a job, where you have to speak to a series of potential colleagues to make sure you are the right person.  Except this time you talk about your child.

  • There’s an awkward moment when you look at the teacher, and they attempt to find your child based on your good looks.
  • You have exactly 6 minutes with each teacher, and spent more time introducing yourself, getting comfortable in the shitty chairs and look at a list the teacher has prepared
  • You stand in line until your name is called, hoping the parents ahead of you are not there or have few questions.
  • You rush to the next teacher on the list, running down the hallways.  I find the latter exciting as it reminds of my time in school, and teachers shouting at me “NO RUNNING” … so I ran faster today 🙂
  • You are late for the next session, you think, but realise quickly that some parent has abused the speed dating rules about timekeeping.
  • You try to do small talk, which fails as teacher is only interested in your child’s performance
  • You try to remember all the questions you had prepared in advance, but fail in every aspect and frantically text my wife before I sit down
  • The worst bit, you can hear how well the child next to you is doing … and in some cases they are not doing very well at all.  Both parents and teacher are trying to keep smiling, while delivering some scathing comments.

Keep-calmHonestly, I’m not too sure I got the full picture of my daughter’s performance.  All the teachers loved her.  Her grades are top, She’s a great friend to her class mates and she interacts with everyone.

I was proud when I heard all this, but more so when the teacher said she stands up for other kids, and defends some kids against bullies.  That’s my girl!

Next time I might dress up a bit, bring my chess clock and play some tricks on the teachers.  We gotta spice up the teacher speed dating thing a bit.

Or, perhaps I pretend to be the father of another child too, which would really confuse most teachers 🙂  It’ll be alright and we are all awesome.

School’s Out for Summer

schoolfinishOne chapter closes – and several new starts.  Kids are wrapping up their school year with ceremonies, ranging from pre-K to 5th grade.  I can’t believe that they have full fledged graduation ceremony for pre-K, with hats, gowns, speeches etc.  … but they do.

We are proud parents of graduates from 5th, 3rd and pre-K.

The big adventure is ahead of us, as we will have three kids in three different schools, each with a school bus picking them up.  Our front door will be the school bus central.

Our oldest daughter will start in middle school.  That’s a huge change and I’m certain it will bring a number of challenges (and opportunities), but we can do this.

Proud

Honestly, I’ve always cringed by the thought of having to watch a bunch of kids perform music or choir at my kids’ schools.  My internal fear is that they are completely out of tune and parents that proudly spring into action when their kid has a 2 second solo, or walks on stage.

Parents starts screaming proudly, probably embarrassing their kids even more, while pushing each other away from the isles just to tape these few moments on their high def cameras – and posting these recordings on Facebook or Instagram, for the entire World to see how amazing their kids were.

Now it’s my turn, as my daughter was preparing for her big moment on stage.

She had been working hard on the sax, honking away upstairs at all hours of the day, much to the nuisance of the local wild life.

Amazingly, I notice a significant improvement in her talent for the past few weeks, and may even may some resemblance to the late John Coltrane.  She was really turning a page in her talent.

daughter_concertFinally the evening of the big event had arrived, and the family traveled to the local school to watch her band perform.  It was a school event so most parents and kids were there, and plenty of excited kids.

As soon as we had dropped her off for band rehearsal / warm-up, I rushed to buy some flowers for my little artist.  I had to push aside a few fellow parents, and bought the last bunch for my special sax player.

We found our seats, a few rows from the stage, and had the cameras ready; taking pictures of an empty stage, the proud teachers, ceiling, decorations … anything that might resemble the event.

Suddenly the kids walked on stage.  First up the orchestra, then band (my daughter) and then chorus.  A tightly packed program was ahead … and I was dreading it.

BUT BUT BUT these kids blew me away.  I was expecting sounds from horror movies, pulling cat tails and stepping on ducks.  These kids played extremely well, and in tune and harmony.

The band came on stage and I was up there diving over parents, knocking over kids, just to get pictures of my little girl on stage.  She was so proud, and smiled from ear-to-ear.

They played four tunes and did excellent.  Again, the band played together as one, and I was utterly amazed.

Even the choir did a phenomenal job, and sang very well.

Well done to all the kids and I’m one proud dad who will go to their next gig!