Friday, September 2, 2011

This will be the year

Like the Red Sox fans who surround me, I’m perpetually telling myself: Maybe this will be the year.

Only for me, that sentiment reverberates through the air not on Opening Day at Fenway Park but on the eve of the first day of school.

This will be it, I tell myself. I’ve had seven years of training in How to Make the School Year Run Perfectly. This will be the year it all comes together.

This will be the year that everyone gets up on time and leaves the house punctually. In fact, so smoothly will our morning routine run that dishes will be washed and crumbs wiped up by the time the door closes behind us. No returning after my morning run to a kitchen-ful of breakfast clean-up: this year I’ll figure out how to get it all done at the same time the kids are preparing to catch the bus.

This will be the year the kids remember to sort their backpacks not just once a semester or even once a week but every day. They’ll come home and remove paperwork, lunch detritus, unwanted snacks, notes from friends, and (in Holly’s case) pet rocks, leaves, twigs and flowers accrued throughout the day.

This will be the year we all remember to get to bed on time every night.

This will be the year I make good on my resolution not to pester anyone about homework. Tim has already proved to us that he can be trusted to keep up with his work: we stopped reminding him last year, and his quarterly report cards made it clear he was holding up his end of the bargain. Now it’s time to make the same pact with Holly. She’ll do her work or she’ll learn the embarrassment of going into class empty-handed. I’ll save myself the daily lecture. We’ll all benefit.

Except that there’s always the nagging worry for me that she won’t get her homework done. After all, she hasn’t yet finished her birthday thankyou notes – four weeks after her birthday. Maybe I’ll pester just a little.

This will be the year I make the absolute most of my work time, too. As soon as I get back from my morning run, I’ll start writing, and I won’t stop until it’s time to meet the elementary bus. That’s more than six hours of focused, uninterrupted work. I should have a remarkably productive fall.

Well, uninterrupted: that’s the catch. That means no scheduling meetings or appointments or coffee dates or errands during work hours. But it’s fine. This is the year I realize that I’ll just have to find other times to get all of those peripheral responsibilities tended to: work time is for work, and I’m going to break the habit of letting it get adulterated with other duties.

But having said that, this will also be the year I find more time to walk in the woods. The trails of the state park beckon from just beyond the edge of our yard, and in the six months we’ve lived here, I have yet to learn more of the trails system than the one that leads to the ice cream stand at park headquarters. Well, that’s the only route that interests the kids; fair enough. But with them back at school, the dog and I are resolved to start exploring more of the trails. True, I just said I was going to work an uninterrupted six-hour work day Monday through Friday. But a half-hour walk in the woods now and then surely will only serve to fuel my creativity.

And in the interest of fueling that creativity, this will be the year I redouble my efforts to read more Thoreau. At the beginning of the summer, I bought a beautiful new volume called “The Quotable Thoreau,” clearly meant for people like me who need the Cliff Notes version of the great naturalist’s work. So far, I’ve dusted the book several times, but have yet to actually read it. With the kids back at school, this will be the year.

I know we’ll succeed in all of these resolutions because we’ll be so well-nourished. You see, this will also be the year I succeed in putting a three- or four-course meal on the table at the same time every evening, featuring a well-balanced menu of proteins, vegetables and starches, with just the right amount of leftovers (and continuing appeal) to pack up for the next day’s lunches.

This will be the year. Just like the Red Sox fans who surround me, I can hope, despite all evidence to the contrary. It could happen. And either way, I’ll keep trying.

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