In a Nutshell | Piecing together the back-to-school puzzle – St. Augustine Record


Brian Thompson| Correspondent

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Tracy Harmon, The Pueblo Chieftain

Does anybody have any idea how any of this is supposed to go?

You know, back to school. Back to work. Back to the fall routine.

Back to the manic morning shuffle. The back-to-school puzzle. How all the pieces fit together, interlocking in a chaotic ballet of furious activity and utter panic.

When people scream, Oh, the humanity!

And someone else screams back, Theres no time for humanity! Forget your shoes and get in the car. Your school will be fine with bare feet.

Amidst this madness, I often think to myself that this must have been what it was like when the meteor took out the dinosaurs. Only, that was calmer.

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Like so many households across the country, mine is beginning the post-summer migration back to school. In our house, there are lots of different schools to return to. I work and teach at a college. Thats ONE. My wife is a pre-school teacher. Thats TWO. And my daughter is going into her sophomore year of high school. That makes THREE. THREE different schools!

HOORAY!!!

And among us, we cant find a soul who can remember how this whole gig works.

Because, in our defense, there hasnt been anything resembling normal in a very long time. Last fall was pretty much a wash thanks to COVID, and then anything before that feels like it was back in 1886. (Then I think it was OK to get dropped off in your bare feet.)

How do you transition a lollygagging summer house back to school-time mania?

Like school supplies. Do they still do that? I have no idea what high school sophomores need. I barely know how to carry on a conversation or not get hit with a pillow when I walk into her room.

The older your child gets, the less you worry about their back-to-school supplies. It used to be a military-like operation with long checklists and scout missions to search for colored pencils or binders adorned with kittens. But now, we sweep everything off her desk into a backpack and call it resourceful or environmentally-friendly.

You got a pencil? I asked her the other day.

Somewhere, she replied. But the eraser is gone, and since theres no sharpener in the house, I had to gnaw the wood down with my teeth. Is that toxic?

Not if you can draw breath afterward, I said. Now, heres some Christmas wrapping paper to use as a notepad.

The other hang-up in our house is thanks to the animals. SO MANY ANIMALS!!!

A cat who needs to be found and kicked out. Two chickens who are demanding food by banging concrete blocks together. A dog who needs a walk, but has decided that my need for haste shall be matched by her need for sloth.

The dog has no concept of what it means to be in a rush. Thats just not in their DNA. (Unless its dinner time.)

And in my haste and impatience, I cant seem to understand that the more I curse and growl and say things like, For Petes sake, pee already! just makes her think shes in trouble (she is!) and that she has a bladder at all.

Oh, and here is the wonderful thing about animals: They can sense when youre stressed and in a hurry. They instinctively know when youre struggling. And thanks to this animalistic intuitiveness, they know just the right thing to do: Like throw-up multiple times! Because, yeah, we have time to deal with that. And they think, you know what, Ill make it a scavenger hunt. So, they have to search all around the house for my special little spots. Nothing like cat vomit to take your mind off how youre running late for work or school.

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My other struggle is trying to remember everything I need to do. Once I have a routine a rhythm Im in great shape. All I need is the step-by-step process, and then a little time to master it. But until I do, I stumble and bumble my way along. I forget important steps. Like getting halfway to my daughters school and realizing shes not in the back seat. (The dog is there, for some reason. And there are frantic texts coming from my kid that say, You left me AGAIN!?! I cant believe the state hasnt put me in foster care!!!

Or I forgot to eat breakfast. Or shower. Or … PUT ON UNDERWEAR!!! How did I forget that? And why didnt anyone put it on the back-to-school checklist?

But we still have a few more days to get it together. We all do. Time for running drills. Practicing routines. A few dry runs. Gathering supplies. Figuring out the cats new hiding spot. And maybe even getting a tattoo on my forearm. It will read: Dont forget your daughter … or your underwear!

Brian Thompson is a former Record staffer and the current director of news and information at Flagler College.

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In a Nutshell | Piecing together the back-to-school puzzle - St. Augustine Record

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