1,985 kilometres (that's 1,233 miles to those on the Imperial system) covered over four days and here I am, home once again, just in time to send the kiddies back to school with lunches containing food I bought tonight at roughly 9pm after realizing "Holy shit! School starts tomorrow! These kids are going to want to eat!"
Back to school doesn't much alter my routine, other than causing my mornings to require a little more structure. Since the girls go to their dad's during the day, in the summer, getting them ready in the morning consists of little more than ensuring they have pants on their butt, and something in their stomach (and even this is kinda/sorta optional, as their stepmom informed me that whether they eat breakfast here or not, the usually end up helping themselves to cereal when they get there in the morning anyway).
Now it's make sure they're fed, teeth brushed, hair brushed, lunch made, school bag packed and they're dressed. Not just dressed, but appropriately dressed.
There's a brief period of about three to four years where you can safely leave your kids to their own devices when it comes to getting dressed. Around grade two they stop insisting on wearing pajamas to school, turtlenecks in 30°C weather, flip flops and/or Crocs in the rain and can *usually* be consistent with the wearing of underpants.
The years previous to these are the ones where you can use praise to deflect the blame on poor fashion choices away from yourself, the parent.
"Oh.. what an interesting outfit little Millie has on..."
"Oh, yes, I know. And she picked it out all by herself, didn't you honey?? ALL BY YOURSELF. NO HELP FROM MOM AT ALL,"
That's right, distance yourself from the purple cordouroy pants paired with the three-sizes-too-small shirt that you kept trying to donate but they kept pulling it out again when you weren't looking, and decided to put it on when you were already fifteen minute late so there was no time to change. Other parents will nod knowingly. They've seen the same horrors you have.
My oldest, having just turned ten, is reaching a stage where once again I feel it necessary to police her wardrobe choices, mainly for the reasons that A) she still hasn't gotten that 'color-matching' thing down and B) children's retailers and the school officials who write the dress code have wildly differing views of what is 'age appropriate'.
Have you recently trying buying shorts for a ten-year-old girl that are not more than three fingers above the knee? Don't bother. Really. Save the time, save the effort and make cut-offs. Or shop in the boys section (where, incidentally, all shorts seem to fall three fingers below the knee).
But basically yeah, we've reached the early stages of that joyous time where her fashion sense may clash with my desire to keep her in outfits that can be described without the use of the term "prost-i-tot". She's a big fan of the Disney set, whose imaginary tweenie characters seem to have clothing allowances that would probably pay my car insurance and my cable bill together.
Evenings require a bit more structure now as well. There is the ceremonial unpacking of the school back, signing of notes, throwing out of half-empty containers of pudding that the school, under their so-called "litterless lunch" mandate insists on having the girls put back in their lunch bags. This is especially pleasant after they've gone to their dad's for the weekend, and the lunch bags don't get unpacked because I like to keep my plastic sandwich containers, thankyouverymuch.
There are showers to be had, on a regular basis even. In the summer there'd be conversations like this (keep in mind that they often bathe at their dad's for hygiene, and sometimes simply for something to do)
"When was the last time you washed your hair?"
"Did you have a bath at your dad's today?"
"When was the last time you had a bath or a shower?"
"Okay, here's some advice.. if the answer to any of those questions is 'I don't know' then just go have a shower."
School time comes and it's every-other-day whether you feel like you need it or not. No one wants to be the smelly kid.
So begins another year. *pours a shot.. or four*