Theoden Janes

Facing the 1st day of school with an A+ attitude

The familiar sound of school buses braking and accelerating will once again float through Charlotte subdivisions starting early Monday morning.
The familiar sound of school buses braking and accelerating will once again float through Charlotte subdivisions starting early Monday morning. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Boy, oh boy, let me tell you how thrilled I am about all the kids heading back to school.

I’m excited because the only thing I enjoy more than going to Target once every week or two is going to Target once every day or two. My four favorite words in the English language, in fact, are: “Dad, I also need...”

I especially love hearing those four words at 9 o’clock the night before the first day, when our daughter has a knack for suddenly remembering she’s got to have cash for this (she knows I don’t carry cash); or a special type of pen for that (she knows I don’t carry pens); or something else she simply can’t start the year without but is nigh impossible to get within the next 10 hours.

The return to the extra-early wake-up call? It’s got pure joy written all over it.

And packing lunches could easily be a pretty dull experience, but nothing spices it up like giving her a shot at doing it herself then upon inspection finding her bag contains a “Cheese Dip & Salsa” Lunchables, frosted strawberry Pop Tarts, a Red Bull and nine Hershey’s Kisses. Or hearing her say, “Fine, I’ll take the apple, but Sarah said they’re selling ice cream at lunch as a first-day-of-school thing. Can I have $1.50?”

After her lunch has been mediated, I can’t wait to see her eyes roll when I announce it’s time for the obligatory back-to-school picture – which she knows I’ll post on Facebook with some embarrassing caption, and which I know all my friends will look at and “Like” without much real emotion because they’ve already waded through 1,000 other similar photos.

I’m also pumped up about departing at 7 a.m. to take her to school, dropping her off at 7:25, then heading straight into work – simply because it’s not quite worth going all the way back home only to have to leave again 20 minutes later. Like you, I live for getting to work early and often feel I don’t spend enough time at my job as it is.

But the real fun ensues when I actually don’t get there early after all, thanks to the mind-bendingly bad traffic and my innate ability to time my commute just right, so that I wind up being stuck behind the bus that stops at this one apartment complex where like 87 kids drag their feet as slowly as possible while boarding.

I’ll get a good kick, too, out of forgetting to take the long-cut around the nearby school – the one with the carpool situation resembling the scene from that disaster movie where every person in New York City is trying to get off the island at the same time.

On top of all this, I know the air will be thick with excitement later in the afternoon, when I text my daughter to learn about all the cool stuff she did on the first day back. She’s a teenager now, and teens love to share with their parents.

Me: “So how was your first day, sweetheart?”

Her: “good”

Me: “How good?”

Her: “good”

Me: “What did you learn?”

Her: “nothing”

Me: “Nothing? Not even how to use capital letters and punctuation?”

Her: “no but i need 15 dollars for the art supply pack and my history teacher wants us each to bring a light blue d-ring loose leaf binder tomorrow so stop and get some cash and can we please go to target”

Yes, indeed: I am absolutely thrilled about all the kids heading back to school. So thrilled that... I think I could use a drink. Anyone want to meet me for a mimosa on Monday?

Janes: 704-358-5897;

Twitter: @theodenjanes

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