Unexpectedly, I was invited to breakfast — at school

My wife and I can’t pin down exactly when it happened.

For her, it was when our 6-year-old stumbled out of her bedroom at 7 a.m. last Tuesday, rubbed the sleep from her eyes and told us she wanted to go to school.

For me, it was our sassy kindergartener’s unexpected invitation for me to join her and her sisters for breakfast at school.

More on the cuisine later.

Breakfast with the girls: Emerie, Parlie and Nayvie, who’s sick of back-to-school photos.

Sometime over the last two weeks, our three elementary-aged daughters slipped into a routine for school.

It took months, but I don’t blame them. Since September, the girls have navigated the most uncertain school year of our lives: “homeschooling” with Mom and Dad; all-out mutinies; back-and-forths between in-person, remote and hybrid learning.

I’m pretty sure our kindergartener, Nayvie, thinks masks are a normal part of school.

“You don’t have to wear it in the car,” I told her on a morning drive last week.

“I like it, Dad.”

OK.

Consistency is crucial with the little ones, Nicki and I have learned. Or relearned. We’re coming off three straight weeks of fully in-person learning at their school.

They’re finally getting more out of it, including some of the weird stuff.

“Did you know wombat poop is square?” my third grader, Parlie, asked me randomly the other day.

She gathered the tidbit from National Geographic — something she enjoys reading at school.

And no, I wasn’t aware. But it’s a thing.

Things are far from perfect. Our two little ones still put up the occasional fight before getting out of bed. A good breakfast helps, we’ve found.

And life is still hectic. Nicki’s due with a baby in six weeks, and we’re eyeing homes in another town.

That would mean another big school changeup. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

For now, things the girls like about school seem to outweigh things they don’t like. Some of their favorite things, as of Thursday:

  • Nayvie, 5: Olivia, her “best bud.”
  • Emerie, 6: Crafts and snacks.
  • Parlie, 9: Her teacher, friends and math.

“Stop right there — I hate math,” said Nayvie, who’s learning to add numbers for the first time.

School breakfast is apparently another hit. Last Monday’s 8 a.m. menu: fruit cocktail, apple sauce, breakfast pizza, milk.

White gravy in place of tomato sauce wasn’t half bad. Chocolate milk’s always a hit. I helped Emerie finish her applesauce, and I’m pretty sure no one touched their fruit.

Next time, it’s Nicki’s turn.

We’re grateful to have school these days. We watched last week as a teacher “sickout” kept thousands of West Ada students home for two days.

As a former teacher, I empathize with educators hesitant to get sick as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Idaho. As a parent, I feel for families who have to juggle jobs and kids who are stuck at home.

For now, Nicki and I will take what we can get.

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow and the Idaho Press Club's 2019 print reporter of the year. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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