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Parenting Imperfect

June 20, 2013

Optimism of the start of the school year is gone

I’ve got nothing left to give. 

By the time you read this, my long slog through the last few weeks of elementary school will be over.

I can all but promise you that the end will not be pretty.

We start every school year with such outsized hopes. This will be the year that my kids always arrive clean and well-fed. Their homework will be neatly labeled and in its appropriate folder. Lunches will be packed the night before and contain all four food groups in USDA-recommended proportions. The mornings will run swiftly and smoothly, like a fine piece of German engineering.

This lasts longer than one might think. It’s hard to say exactly when we start cutting corners — but it is easy to say that these last few weeks are full of parental equivocations.

You have an apple in your lunchbox? Awesome. And, no, I don’t care that it’s the same apple that’s been in there for the last month. It’s an apple, at least, and will make up for the leftover bacon I just tossed in there.

Your homework is crumpled at the bottom of your backpack? Great. Smooth it out and sit on it during the ride to school. Couldn’t hurt. Might help.

You bathed three days ago? Well, it’ll have to do because you don’t have time to shower now. And could you put your shoes on, like I asked you? What? No, I don’t have 24 cupcakes for you to take in today. Why would I have two dozen cupcakes just sitting around? Could you have mentioned this earlier? 

That’s not a dress anymore, child, it’s a top. No, it’s not OK. Please tell me you have shorts on under it. I know you’ve outgrown everything but, no, we’re not going clothes shopping tonight. Three more weeks, kid. Your wardrobe just needs to last three more weeks.

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