Small Wonders: Sharpening up for the school year

August 28, 2010

"Daddy, this pencil won't work," Thing 1 calls from the back porch. "It won't sharpen right."

She's got a fistful of pencils and is trying to sharpen them in preparation for the first day of the new school year. She and her sister, Thing 2, are Chihuahuas who have focused their nervous energy this morning into getting ready for school an hour away.

The pencil is indeed flawed, honed unevenly so the wood shields the lead on one side like a hood. Over the summer she's forgotten Pencil Sharpening 101, so I demonstrate for her, pushing the pencil straight into the wall-mounted sharpener, not pulling it or pushing it at an angle.


"Oh, it does work," she discovers.

After 18 more pencils, just enough for Day 1, she runs off to assemble her backpack, pencil box, space-saver, folders, notebooks, journal, GPS system and emergency defibrillator.

Just kidding. We don't let her take her journal to school.

I read a post recently on Facebook that summer vacation has ended for the kids but just started for parents. Amen to that. Just in time for our first real summer heat wave, school begins.

Triple-digit heat, shadeless playgrounds, smog alerts, over-congested rooms without air-conditioning. All this so my second-grader can be on the same schedule as college-bound juniors and seniors taking prep exams.

School: It's about what's best for the kids.

But anyway, mine arose this day with visions of school chums dancing in their heads. They knew exactly what they wanted to wear, brushed their teeth and hair without being asked, didn't fight with each other over equal spacing on the couch and were ready and eager to go by 7 a.m.

If it weren't for the moles and selective hearing I know they inherited from me, I'd wonder if they were really my offspring. I don't recall ever looking forward to school. Not the first day, not even the last.

But I do so look forward to it now.

We spent a lot of time together this summer, which was over almost as soon as it started. But it's not until today that we see just how much they've grown since last year.

Since last month.

Even 10 minutes ago.

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