Back to school time always held so much promise. Empty, pristine ready-to-be-written in scribblers, new-fangled pens with multi-coloured push-down ink choices, a stiff-from-newness corduroy jumper or two and a fresh attitude of commitment; this year, no procrastination!

While over time the scribblers became dog-eared, the pen was tossed for being too unforgiving, replaced by a more practical mistake-erasing pencil, the jumpers more often junked for acid-washed jeans and the procrastination promise put off for another day, what never changed was the potential that this year just could be the best school year ever.


As a mother, I’ve had the privilege of reliving that all over again with my own kids, though that back-to-school excitement dwindles a little as they age. This year, shopping for the big day with my daughter involved e-transferring money and dropping her off and picking her up, but at least she let me do some school lunch packing grocery shopping with her.

She may not have wanted my help selecting duo-tang designs, but at least I was there to point out the ‘buy two, they cost less per each,’ signs on the fruit cups she likes. But while back to school looms, summer isn’t quite over yet.

Temps are still promising and there’s still fun to be had at the camper. Fires are more fantastic and bodies linger longer when the evenings are cooler, and with the humidity gone, hot chocolate is the evening beverage of choice for the kiddies as they toast their marshmallows.

Pedestrian Mall wanderings are now sweater weather and an ice cream might not always be our go-to as an evening treat, though that’s still what gets the teens in the car in the first place.

Meals on the deck feel a little like a last-ditch effort to squeeze what’s left of the season out of a staycation summer where most chose to make lemonade out of our collective pandemic-sized package of lemons, accepting our new normal even as it has us changing with the tides on a week-by-week basis.


From a no pond-side-spectator Regatta to a packed George Street summer, we’ve adjusted and adapted. Even as I write this, the promise of a “normal” return to school isn’t something we’ll hold anyone to. It’s a numbers game people, and we all seem ready for whatever comes. And isn’t that a little what heading off to school is all about?

Those early school days offer a baseline to learning – a learning to learn – so we can all do or become anything. Part of the magic of education is that children who share the same school roof from grade one on go off to study everything from mechanics to medicine.


After following the same curriculum for over a decade, kids adapt their past learnings to new adventures and soar on the fuel that filled them starting back in kindergarten.

Education isn’t really about packed backpacks of supplies or learning to play the recorder at lunch. It’s about the promise of potential and about filing the pages of a passport to freedom of choice.

Whatever this school year brings, that’s one thing that never changes.


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