"Mommy, can I get a new backpack?" That's Sabrina talking. She's really excited about going into kindergarten, and perhaps even more psyched about all the stuff she might be able to get.
"Yes, we'll go to Target and see what they have," I say. Then I pause. I’m thinking about Max. He hasn't asked for a new backpack because he can’t talk. He's also not starting school in September, given that he goes to one that runs year-round. But, still, he deserves a new backpack, just like all the other kids. He deserves that fresh start.
Back-to-school season is both an exciting and strange time of year for me. Memories of meeting new teachers, seeing friends again and shopping for school supplies come flooding back, giving me a charge. I feel renewed, even though as an adult nothing is really changing for me (well, other than life getting even more hectic). This year I'm feeling wistful, too; Sabrina's entry into public school is making me acutely aware of the contrast between the kids. One child is doing things the way I did it, one child is markedly not. One child is "typical," as the world defines it; one child is not.
And yet, I am determined to even the playing field. I make sure both of my children savor the pleasures of childhood, whether that means spoon-feeding Max chocolate ice-cream or climbing up the jungle gym with him. I read to them at night separately, since they have different levels of comprehension. I kiss them both so often it’s ridiculous, even while they sleep.
But what to do about Max and his lack of demand for a backpack, something that seems like some quintessential child right? I could program the speech app on his iPad to say: “I want a new backpack.” Or, better yet, I can visit a couple of sites and let him point to what he wants. And that’s what I do.
I settle down on the couch with both kids and the computer and we browse backpacks. Sabrina wants a blue one, Max wants something “ur-ul” (“purple.”) He would also like something involving car washes (“ar wahhh!”), his other current obsession, but nothing quite fits that bill.
Sabrina finds her dream backpack. Max falls for a purple lunch pack. I order them. The kids seem happy. I’m happy. Both my kids are now ready for a new year at school…and so am I.
Originally posted on VolunteerSpot as part of the Views On Back To School Series. The site has sign-up sheets that make it easier to get involved at school. Register there before October 1, 2010 with the promotion code "Teachers Save" for a chance to win $100 in free classroom supplies for the teacher of your choice from ClassWish.