September 04, 2008
Filed Under (Good Times, The Happy Sad Things) by svana

Before becoming a parent, I really didn’t get the whole “back to school” thing. Why on earth would parents get teary eyed and hyper because their children went back to school? The shopping, haircuts and the dreaded First Day of School.

My daughter’s first day of Kindergarten was filled with elation and joy. She was thrilled to be going to school…how long could that last, I wondered. Every day was met with the same excitement for learning. I’ll admit, we started building it up in late August with the new stuff for school. The pristine Pooh Bear pencil case filled with new pencils, erasers, pencil crayons and wax crayons…all very carefully chosen for their various merits by my daughter. The running shoes that lit up whenever her feet touched the ground, as I was told then…”it will help me see where I’m going”. Weak as I am against her charm…I buckled. I became one of those parents. I did, however, draw the line at the faux fur coat that caught her eye. At least there was some hope for me. Last, but certainly not least…the back pack. The Bear in the Big Blue House won out over Blues Clues, for which I am profoundly grateful. At least her choice showed she had a sense of humour, rather than a conformist sheep seeking clues because of a blue dog with a speech impediment.

That very first morning, standing in the play yard…we saw it. The cliques. We noted the floaters, the Home and School committee members, the Starbucks cronies, and of course the people like us who were simply at loose ends. Fortunately, we met a number of the parents whose children, like ours, would be starting that morning. As the teacher approached us, our daughter was overheard to say, “I still think half a day is a rip-off”. That’s my girl!

To explain…in our province, you can either go to Kindergarten every other day for full days or half a day, every day. We opted for half a day every day for the stability and routine it offered. Our daughter believed that if you were going to be going to school, it was a disappointment to only go for half a day. She just wanted to be a big kid and go to school all day long. As the year went on, my daughter discovered the blessings of half days grudgingly, and came to accept it. At the end of the year, with the tears of good-byes and promises of play dates the whole summer stretched before her. The bright end to that summer was late August signalling the start of a new school year…with a new back pack.

We went through various phases of conformity and the back pack…Dora, plain black, pink courier bag…but now, in Grade 4, it was time to display who she really is. My daughter is a geek, and a very pretty one at that. She decided that the only way she would not be nervous going into Grade 4 is if she had her very own Ufie Gear, Dust Puppy Back Pack. User Friendly is a geek comic strip on-line which some friends introduced to us years ago. Dust Puppy is one of the neatest characters we have seen in a very long time…an lo-and-behold…he is on a back pack. I found myself in the same situation as the light up shoes. Back packs come and go…but her love of Dust Puppy has endured and grown over the years. I have to admit, Dust Puppy with it’s mass of hair, eyeballs and feet is thoroughly engaging and charming.

So, being that parent, I hopped on-line and ordered a Dust Puppy back pack…for the first day of school. As the count down began, my daughter would ask, “Is Dust Puppy going to be here in time?” Those big, beautiful, pleading brown eyes…filled with concern. My response, while intending to be comforting, fell short, I’m sure…”Of course, have I ever let you down?” Like any one of those parents, I paid for super fast shipping which was about the same cost as the back pack, and crossed my fingers. Mark at Ufie Gear did not let me down…and he never has. Almost a week before the first day of school I had the coveted Dust Puppy back pack in my hands. I marvelled at the design, all of the thoughtful bits and bobs, the hiding spaces, the durable construction and of course…the embroidered Dust Puppy on the back.

My husband thought we should save it until just before the first day of school. I was just so darn excited by this super cool back pack, I wanted to drop it in her lap right away. We hit a compromise…the night before school, we would present the back pack.

As the week flowed into the weekend, our daughter was starting to lose hope. While bumbling through Loblaws on Saturday, she looked at me…bereft…and said, “I know you haven’t ever let me down…but do you really think Dust Puppy will be here in time?” At that point, I had to be very careful not to show that I already had it…I had to preserve the parental mystery. My response was delivered with a carefully blank expression, “Yes, my love…it will be here, I promise.” She looked doubtful. It is amazing, despite the fact that I have never failed to deliver on a promise to her…in NINE years!! For her entire life, I have never made a promise I could not keep, so my track record is perfect.

The night before the start of the 2008-2009 school year, we placed her back pack in her room while she was getting everything lined up for the following morning. The somewhat abused, but much loved Pooh Bear pencil case, new indoor shoes lined up ready to be stowed in….what? My husband looked at our daughter and said…”Look in the box, Sweetie.” As she slid the back pack out of the box, her eyes widened…she squealed and danced around her bedroom clutching the Dust Puppy back pack to her chest like the most beloved and longed for item. With sparkling eyes she looked at us both and declared, “Now I’m ready for school.”

And so she was, with an elated bounce she skipped out the door for a whole new year. Resplendent in purple, armed with her very unique back pack, hair swinging and shining in the sun…on to the play yard she went, prepared for anything.

One Response to “Back to school…The Back Pack”

  1. Da Hubban Says:

    And so, a week into school, the first Fire Drill arrives. After school the little Dust Puppy backpack owner says, “I don’t think I want to take Dust Puppy to school anymore, in case there’s a fire. I would have to leave him behind, and Mommy said he was the last one.”

    After some reassurance that this backpack was the last one *in-stock*, that there would be more, and reminders that the backpack is just a *thing*, and ultimately *things* do not matter, the concern went away, and Dust Puppy continues to travel to and from school.

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