As parents prepare to send their children back off to school, I’m reminded of my household all those many years ago when my own parents scurried to get us ready for the first day of school.
There were five of us, two girls and three boys, so that meant my parents had to do some fine-tuned planning — especially Mom, since she also had to go to work on the first day back to school.
In anticipation of that particular day, Mom began anew planning breakfasts, lunches, buying and preparing clothes. On that first day back to school, she also had to figure out what time all of us would be out of classes and back home. Mind you, there were five of us — five different ages, grades and personalities.
But that first day back didn’t relieve us of the chores we’d normally have. With Mom being smart enough to realize there was usually no homework that day, there was no change in the game.
So when we arrived home, we had to immediately change out of those new clothes and shoes and carefully put them away, fully aware that we’d have to wear the same outfit again in two or three days. Then we had to call Mom to let her know we’d all arrived.
After that, my sister or I had to take the meat out of the refrigerator that Mom planned for dinner to let it thaw in the two hours before she got home. We’d check the mailbox for mail, clean up here and there, make sure the trash was taken out — and then watch TV or play our board games until Mom arrived. We couldn’t go outside until Mom came home.
When she did, there would be a thousand questions about what went on the first day back to school: who’s your new teacher, do you like her, do I know her, where’s your school supplies list, where do you sit in class (and it had better be somewhere between the middle and the front of the class), did you behave yourself, etc.
Of course, we always answered in the affirmative.
By the time Dad arrived home about 6 p.m., dinner was ready, with the mouth-watering aroma of something like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, string beans and hot rolls filling the house.
At the dinner table was where we also had our first family meeting of the new school year. Mom and Dad let it be known that they had high expectations of us — study hard, no goofing around in class, no talking back to the teacher, start homework soon after arriving home and have it all ready for them to check over after dinner.
Finally, although we were still in the last days of summer and it was somewhat light outside, we had to prepare for bed. That meant choosing that last TV show of the evening that everyone could enjoy together. Afterward, we’d help Mom with our lunches for the next day, lay out new sets of school clothes, and line up for our baths.
When all was still and quiet and we were securely tucked in, Mom and Dad would come into our rooms to help with our prayers and to remind us of how proud they were of us.
They had great expectations for us in the new school year, and we knew we had to step up to the plate and deliver.