So here we are. Back to school. Back to after-school activities. Back to trying to figure out how to be in three places at the same time while also filling out and signing 783 pages of paperwork that allows the school to take my kid’s picture, take them on field trips (sometime in the future, then I’ll have to fill out another triplicate form), give them access to the lunch room, and perform satanic rituals, if there’s enough time after they finish their assigned curriculum.
Also, it’s back to going into full-blown panic mode every afternoon at 4 p.m. when I realize I have no plan for dinner and clearly my kids will either starve to death or develop rickets due to my lack of attention to their proper doses of vitamin intake. Yay school!
I go into every new school year with amazing plans. Seriously. I am the Queen of Amazing Plans. I create weekly color-coded menus, replete with recipes and corresponding ingredients that are copied onto shopping lists. Sometimes, I even review the weekly market circulars first, incorporating sale items into the menu plan. And then I write down prices next to each item. This way, I can plug them into my budget and make sure I’m keeping our savings on track for our kids’ future college expenses and our retirement plans. I create a Sunday schedule where weekly food prep will be performed, making weeknight meal prep and lunch-making a process so simple, I will be left with carefree hours to read a book whilst leisurely sipping on a bold glass of red wine, with undertones of black cherry and oak.
Then, about 11 minutes into the new school year, I’m trying not to cry while I grate cheese at 8:46 p.m. so I can microwave a plate of nachos and serve them with pickles (it’s totally a vegetable — they are cucumbers, for God’s sake) and then hide in the bathroom drinking whiskey from a mason jar while sweeping up dog hair from under the cabinet with a wad of toilet paper and wondering how the f%#! there is dog hair in the bathroom when those beasts are so terrified of the freaking bathtub that they wouldn’t cross the threshold into the bathroom even if someone was stabbing me with a toothbrush.
I feel like I need to find a middle ground. Because Sunday prep really ruins my whole football vibe but weeknight nervous breakdowns really ruin my whole I-swear-I’m-not-going-to-lose-my-shite-and-go-on-a-killing-spree vibe.
I firmly believe that September through June should not be a loop of weekday out of control-ness, followed by weekend errand running and preparation misery. That’s 10 months of guilt that leads to chocolate purchasing and/or the crazy eyes that scare my entire family. Because during that time, we also have holidays, vacations, and an alphabet soup of exams like FLACs, APs and SATs.
And that’s before we even address the food allergies — ours and other peoples. Do you know how many people are allergic to apples? It’s exactly way more than it should be. I mean, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, they’re apples. They grow on trees. They’re small and pretty and sort of epitomize America. How can an apple allergy even be legal? And yet, I know at least three people who cannot eat the one food that’s supposed to keep the doctor away.
So how many nutritious, super-easy, quick, and inexpensive, gluten free, dairy-light (we can stomach SOME dairy, but only hard cheeses with low lactose content), vegetarian-adaptable (because two of us break down crying when we even think about confined animal feeding operations and the other two would have no problem raising, killing, and gutting their own meals) dinners do you think exist? Oh, and these dishes also cannot contain the aforementioned apples, soy, squash — in any of its forms, peas, corn, and most beans, just because. It’s like making dinner for two Sybils.
Also, there is a minimum of two nights per week when dinner needs to be served after 8 p.m. because I like to keep it interesting. At some point, the number of activities to which my family is committed surpassed the number of people in the family. Don’t get me wrong, I love back-to-school night, but if they could offer the CliffsNotes version, it would really help me out. Sort of like speed-dating except for meeting new teachers. I think the teachers might appreciate this model, as well. Like, if they sit down and find out that you’re the parent of the kid who is the reason that they drink, a quick, “Sorry, this isn’t going to work out,” would allow them to move on to the next parent without having to explain to you that they curl up into the fetal position and cry on their couch at night, convinced your child was sent by the devil himself to test the bounds of their sanity. Because really, how would you come back from that (even if you sometimes think the same thing)?
I don’t know. I was a kid once and I don’t remember it being like this. I think we did things differently back then. Or maybe I just drank enough to have blocked it all out. Either way, this whole raising intelligent, kind, thoughtful, and well-rounded human beings is not as easy as Ward and June made it look. Most days I feel a lot more like a lioness who should have had her young removed before she ate them.
So far, I’ve not eaten my kids (yay me!) but I can’t guarantee it won’t ever happen. High school isn’t over for a lot more years. I’ll try to curb the desire with yoga, meditation, and copious amounts of alcohol. Greg from keyingredient.com offers a recipe that not only looks yummy but, with the double entendre, gives a nod to all of us suffering parents.
1 lemon cut into 8 wedges
3 strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise
4 ounces simple syrup
6 ounces vodka
1 ounce cranberry juice
In a shaker, muddle lemon, strawberries, and simple syrup. Add ice, vodka, and cranberry juice. Shake well and strain into three martini glasses. Garnish with a strawberry and serve.