There’s a very popular Staples commercial featuring a Dad dancing down the aisle to the Christmas carol refrain "It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" while filling his cart with back-to-school supplies. Following a short distance behind the Dad are his two children, with sullen expressions and their hands shoved down deep in their pockets.
While I used to find this commercial amusing when I was single, having multiple school age children has really given me a greater appreciation for the humor in this video. What makes it so funny is the truth behind it. When I was a kid, I used to look forward to summer vacation, but as a parent, I feel very differently about it now. I view it with a cautious sense of optimism and even a little stress.
At first, I was as excited as the kids were this summer about the thought of taking them places and doing things. We went on several hikes and campouts this summer, including at the Cherry Valley Bow Hunter’s Club and the La Ladera Father’s Day Campout. We had several family cookouts, attended three birthday parties, two of which we hosted, and went to the Del Mar Fair for the Fourth of July.
Nikk graduated from high school, and Joshuah learned to walk, run, and use the word “No” in proper context (yes, we have hit that stage). We even successfully fended off two minor epidemics of summer flu with minimal repercussions. Entertaining these little critters and keeping them well and out of trouble can get very exhausting. What typically starts as a grand adventure and exemplary teamwork at some point generally descends into a "He’s touching me", "She’s looking at me" scenario.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my children dearly and they are each wonderful human beings – individually. However, there is a chemical reaction when any two of them get into the same room that is baffling to behold.
I’ve been seeing the back to school commercials on the television and ads in our mail. The kids all have a few new outfits, pencils, crayons, markers, notebooks and other supplies. Because most schools are starting in the next two weeks, we feel a great sense of relief in our household that this, the most wonderful time of the year, has arrived.
I am interested in finding out more about how your family is dealing with the back-to-school season. Do some of you veteran parents have any tips for the new parent readers out there? Please leave a comment below.
David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every Friday in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.