I was thinking about backpacks just the other day. My three kids all had to have them to start kindergarten. It’s required. I already knew that they were pretty much ubiquitous these days, but…

I was in school until 1979, and never once had a backpack. Not even in high school. Nor did other people, at least not enough for me to notice. Books and such were carried in your arms. It was awkward, inconvenient, even sometimes painful, but at least during school there were lockers, and generally not everything had to come home overnight. Yet I am no sure how we managed without them.

College was different. While I didn’t start college until 1982, they’d long been a given in that environment. I may not have known that until contemporaries started college in 1978 and 1979, but by the time it was my turn, I knew to head to the store and spend $30 (in 1982 dollars! For one far less good than my kids have for much less!) in anticipation of the backbreaking load of books I would have to cart around.

Funny how that works, seeing the same topic addressed right after I’ve pondered it myself.

Teaching a Four Year Old Relativity

This is funny.

I must say, I did a bit better teaching a bit of cosmology to a rapt seven year old, when she asked about the edge of space. Better still with the entire history of the causes and results of the Civil War, slavery and the civil rights movement in about ten minutes or so of lecture mode, prompted by a question on it by the six year old, who then left while I discussed it with the seven year old. Also did a pretty good job of explaining what money and value are, though that’s an ongoing lesson.

Party Time

Took the five year old to a classmate’s birthday party at a skating rink/fun center today. He’d certainly never been skating, and I’d not gone since I was a kid. My father skated all the time, and we’d go with him sometimes. For him it even went as far as roller skating dance competitions. There were rinks everywhere, then. Along the line, most of them disappeared. Was it because of the advent of rollerblades? Anyway…

We walked in and he went all shy, and was taken aback by the blaring music. Which was, in my opinion, a fair bit too loud, and nothing I’d have chosen to listen to myself. He refused to try skating, which would have been easy because they had nifty 3-wheeled supports for kids to use while learning. Plus almost everyone skating was around his age. He turned 5 in August, young for his kindergarten class, while the girl whose birthday it was turned 6 this week, old for her class. Not many were older kids.

He hid behind me when the classmate’s dad introduced himself. We spent most of the time there sitting in one spot at a table, where he ate fries, since he still can’t (as far as we know, and at any rate won’t) eat pizza (dairy allergy in the process of fading), which was what was being served. Everyone else went back to skating or the arcade. He kept eating fries and refusing to try skating. He refused to sit at the table with the other kids for the food. He then refused to sit at the table with the other kids to sing happy birthday and have cake. He refused to try the cake, except a tiny taste of frosting from my piece.

Eventually, not that long before the end, when few people were in the arcade, he was willing to go try games. Turned out a lot of them were broken or had issues. Air hockey lacked pucks. Ms. Pac Man had a screen too dim to see. The claw crane for stuffed animals game didn’t work right, in the form of running for a matter of a couple seconds and only moving side to side, not back to front. He had the most fun riding a little 4-horse carousel.

They were announcing the end of the party, having people turn in their free skates, and after that, when it was time to leave, he points at the rink, wanting to try that. Doh! I told him it was time to leave, that we weren’t going to pay to rent skates now, and he should have gotten comfortable sooner. I suspect it helped that there were just two people skating at that point.

I’m not sure even his shy and overly emotional older sister, the middle child and 6 year old, has exhibited that much shyness. She’d have sat with the other kids and maybe even been forward with them. Or at least she’d have gotten past it sooner. Oh well. And he’s so charming! Other kids seem crazy about him. Much like me at the same age, when I was possibly just as shy, unless I was in the right element. I lost the charming more than the shyness. Though I managed to charm the nurses in the hospital a couple weeks ago, which made me think that if I’d had that in me when I was younger and it mattered, I’d be talking about the antics of adult children and even grandchildren now, not children in kindergarten, first and second grades.

I Love My Kids

And I am not “a mom,” but I can totally understand this (up to the point I’ve read, but I know I’m gonna link it when I’m done, and I don’t have time to read the rest now, so why not bookmark it here for myself now… and for our many readers… oh wait). My oldest was not unwanted, but sure wasn’t wanted YET. She’s still impatient. Having kids is a huge opportunity cost, even more than a cash cost. It doesn’t help when we have a society that encourages helicopterism, and wants kids bundled in proverbial bubble wrap lest there be risk or the taking of chances. The environmentalists want nobody to drive an SUV or large car. The for-the-childrenists force us to swaddle them in child seats ad nauseum, requiring an SUV or large car if you dare be fertile. It’s crazy.

Speaking of the Bus Stop

The three kids are in consecutive grades, with the youngest now in kindergarten For the prior two years, the only people designated for the bus stop on this street were in this building, so we were able to get the bus immediately across the street. That was handy for being able to wait on the porch in weather, and for not having to walk any distance or be out sooner rather than later. It was a bit surprising to hit this year and discover that there were 5-6 other kindergarten kids on our street and around the corner.

Anyway,on top of what she said, there is also the matter of smoking. These parents who are so apparently helicoptery to their precious little kindergarteners (and older siblings), walking them right to the bus door for a long good-bye (and panicking because the older ones have to walk the half mile to the elementary school… can’t have free range kid practice in this dreadfully dangerous semi-rural town donchaknow), most of them smoke. Around their kids and around other people. At the bus stop. I found myself trying not to cough from it yesterday and thinking that I’d be an asshole to complain, because I hate to be That Person. It’s outdoors, after all. At the same time, my heart sank, imagining this Alll Year Long.

At least it’s transient, not like having someone on the first floor smoking all winter when the first and second floor apartments irreparably share air space. Still… Ugh.