Through the Kitchen Window

It’s September and though for me it doesn’t carry nearly the import that it used to, it’s back to school month almost everywhere. Of my four children, only Anthony, the youngest, is still in “school”. Two are away now at university or college; and my daughter is in Montreal and a career girl.

Still, even for someone “almost done” like me, September evokes memories of getting organized for school, and the traditions that we used to observe along the way.

I think our biggest Back to School tradition, outside of the mandatory shopping trips, was our Back to School Dinner. Through the years it proved to be the one thing they looked forward to most of all. Each year, on the first day back, we made a point of everyone being together for dinner out that night. The kids got to choose where we went. I think that was one of the things they loved best about the evening.

Strangely enough, it was hardly ever fast food burgers and such. They quite often chose good, family type restaurants for this once a year ritual. We’d visit the local steak house or chicken barbecue joint. Sometimes they’d opt for a real pizzeria style pizza. In later years, they even ventured to Oriental restaurants and buffets.

In reality, it didn’t really matter where we went. What mattered was that we all made a point of being together (with no extra guests) for a special evening of the children’s choosing. Since no one had to worry about cooking, serving, clearing or washing up, we were free to discuss the things that mattered. There was always much to talk about with four children in various stages of their educations. We’d commiserate with the one who got an “icky” teacher. Offer our condolences to the poor young man who had to sit next to a “smelly girl”. We rejoiced when my daughter, the budding poet, got her favourite teacher for Italian AND Creative Writing in Grade 12!!! And when the middle son was lucky enough to get the same Grade 8 teacher as his brother had two years before, we celebrated with a round of Shirley Temples. The important things in children’s lives. And most important was the fact that they were able to share this with their siblings, mom and dad and celebrate like adults celebrate the momentous occasions in their own lives.

The kids have long grown up and those dinners are pretty much a thing of the past. Sure, Anthony and I still come together and touch base on things, but now that it’s just the two of us it’s lost much of the ritual. We’re just as likely to stay at home, order in and chat idly about how this year may go and what will happen next year, the year my last “baby’ leaves the nest and heads out into the “real” world of university and nearly adult life.

I have always tried to cultivate a strong, binding relationship with my kids. These evenings were not by far the only times we talked and had “fun”. In fact, I’m sure they don’t remember them the same way I do. But at some level I’m sure they remember the feeling that we tried to instill, and that, for me, is the important thing.

Maybe it’s time to start a traditional First Day of School Dinner at your house. If you do, I’d love to hear all about it.

Till next month, TTFN!!!

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