Yes, our daughter has a huge backpack. This is a good thing.
The photo I shared on Facebook of Charlotte’s first-ever day of school is a bit deceiving. Our girl is standing on the downward-sloping lawn of Holy Name of Mary School, bent over with laughter, so she looks even shorter behind the psychedelic pink-and-white backpack that’s big enough to see her through high school.
Charlotte’s new backpack also looks so very huge simply because she is so very small. At just over three-and-a-half years old, she is one of Holy Name’s youngest students. But, just as eagerly as she picked out that backpack (and as eagerly as I bought it because it wasn’t obnoxiously covered with Disney princesses), so is she ready to face the challenges of primary education.
Our family is accustomed to being apart from one other. Charlotte’s attended the town’s wonderful Early Learning Centre on a part-time basis since turning two and has thrived while there. She’s spent time in all three classrooms, so we’ve come to know — and greatly appreciate — all the staff. She’s also made many friends, most of whom will not be accompanying her to Holy Name, and who will be missed despite the requisite playdates.
But if there’s one trait Charlotte’s always possessed, it’s of being unfazed by newness. As summer wore on, talk of the “big kid” school increased. She learned to print her name. We pointed out the building when we passed by and practiced her walking route. Discussion of acceptable behaviour (the terrible twos are nothing compared to the tantrum threes!) increasingly flowed, and soon enough, we were turning the calendar to September.
Charlotte’s first day was actually Thursday; it gave us time to ease out of a particularly lazy and enjoyable Labour Day weekend. On Wednesday evening, lunch was packed into that princess bag, an outfit laid out, and indoor shoes located. If she was nervous or worried, she didn’t show it; Andrew and I tried not to overstate the magnitude of the following morning.
But anticipation was certainly in the air Thursday morning. We actually made it out of the house early, and were met by a fairly empty schoolyard. This quickly changed; buses arrived, kids and parents walked into the play yard and milled around. That aforementioned photo was snapped, and we all jumped when the warning bell — a loud buzzer quite unlike the clang of my own scholastic youth — made us all jump.
What to do now? I spotted Mrs. Keene, Charlotte’s teacher, and led Charlotte over to say good morning. Charlotte took her hand and we all stood awkwardly for a moment until I realized it was time for Dad and me to leave.
That’s when my waterworks started.
I didn’t cry when Charlotte started walking because I’d miss her crawl; rather, I had tears of excitement at the thought of how differently she would come to discover the world on two feet. I would miss our girl on a daily basis, sure, but after a tense summer of trying to balance her growing mind with work responsibilities, I know that putting her in the hands of trained, compassionate professionals on a daily basis would be best for all of us.
I gave her the tightest hug possible and walked away, tears streaming down my face, Andrew laughing nervously. I turned for one last look; she was smiling away, holding hands with other junior kindergarteners as she marched into school.
I have no doubt that Charlotte will be just fine. She’s always been game for a challenge, after all; just that morning, she actually carried that massive backpack almost all the way to her new school!
These days, granola is used more as a topping for yogurt than as a full-bowl breakfast (easier said than done, sometimes). This recipe is a one-bowl wonder and offers great autumnal flavours.
Maple Apple Granola
3 jazz apples, cored and chopped
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325°F. Place chopped apples, oats, almonds, flaxseed meal and cinnamon in a large baking sheet and mix together. Cut in butter with your hands, until only small pieces remain.
Pour maple syrup and vanilla into the baking sheet, and use your hands to thoroughly mix all the ingredients together.
Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then toss with a spatula, breaking up large clumps. Return to oven and bake for 20 more minutes, until granola is mostly dry.
Toss once more with spatula and let cool completely on the baking sheet before storing or serving. Lasts for one week in air airtight container in the fridge.