It’s that time of year again: the start of another academic year. Everyone who has ever been a child or raised a child in the Western Hemisphere will recognize that this is the time of new beginnings. Small children start school, bigger children chafe in new uniforms, and many teenagers leave home for the first time against a backdrop of reddening trees and the freshening winds of autumn.
For me it is also the time to pick up the exacting routines of housekeeping after the laxness of summer. Everyone has to get up, eat and shower and be out of the house on time. Everyone has to return home safely at the end of the day and be fed again, listened to, commiserated with, supported and soothed and finally nagged back in to their beds. The fridge must be kept supplied with food, everyone must have shoes and the lights on the bikes must be working.
This routine, though somewhat monotonous, is necessary. Without it we rapidly sag downwards into the chaos that awaits beneath: skipped meals, forgotten medication, chronic sleep shortages and abandoned homework assignments. I will know my children are truly adult and independent of me when they finally recognise the importance of getting enough sleep and eating regularly.