Letting the Leaves Fall

This September, I am recognizing in myself what could be considered a neurotic tendency to fixate on words.

Amoung my favourites (words, not neurotic tendencies) are those which provide comically accurate descriptions or implications of events, objects and, teetering precariously near the top of the list, states of mind.

Take, for example, the connotation of, and the actual word, “scattered.”

And I’m not referring to the way beautifully coloured autumn leaves lay scattered on the ground after flitting gracefully from outstretched branches.

What I am referring to are my efforts to switch gears, back to what almost every conversation with parents includes at this time of year: routine. I have been trying, with limited success, to recognize the value of this firmly impaled thorn-in-my-side, while trying to achieve all that it implies.

However, my efforts have been, minus the beauty and grace, much like the leaves that have fallen haphazardly to the ground.

As a child, my September routine included a promise to myself that I would adhere to a strict regimen: my homework would be completed immediately upon my arrival home each day, and my notebooks would be kept meticulously tidy. For a couple of weeks, I lived up to these pledges.

But, soon after about week three, the painstaking forming of each stroke of every letter became too much, and many other diversions had nudged their way into the time needed to maintain what I, by then, had assured myself were unreasonable standards, anyway.

Now, as a parent, I remember this about myself, and balance it with the importance of setting a good example as I encourage my kids to fully capitalize on the fresh opportunities to develop and maintain excellent work habits.

I’ve realized, though, that in my case, the bar needs to be set a tiny bit lower (dangerous territory, I know) when re-establishing a September routine. Because, aside from ensuring my kids eat three meals a day and go to bed at some point when it’s dark, I’m reluctant to call much of anything else right now a sure thing. Even though their attendance at school is pretty high on the list, in the negligible number of days since their return, both my 13 and 10 year-olds have missed the bus twice, and one has spent a day sick at home.

So if I need to grasp at small successes (and I do), I can really only claim true victory on the basics which simply include food and sleep.

And I’m hesitant even to take full credit for those.

Early in September, we (OK, I) decided that lunches would be prepared and packed an almost-worrisome amount of time ahead. For the first couple of school mornings the children would flee my commentary about how great it feels to simply grab the lunch bags from the fridge, and stuff them into backpacks on the way out the door. Now, just as we fondly remember those long summer days when the trees still held their leaves, early-made lunches have also become a thing of the past.

I find ways to placate myself; it’s still kind of summer, after all. This is an excellent excuse, and we embraced and over-used it last weekend when we opted to accept invitations to friends’ swimming pools, rather than settling into the routine of fall chores that need (still…need) to be done around the house.

I have complete confidence that, as we always do, we’ll eventually struggle our way back on top of our back-to-school routine.

But surely, I can delay it until the last of the leaves have fallen.