Our back-to-school ritual is being a little compressed and altered this year.

There are normally two parts: the shopping trip, and the First Day breakfast. The shopping trip consists of breakfast out, followed by the purchasing of school supplies and clothing. We  accomplished most of the shopping yesterday, including the all-important Measuring of the Feet. I think that new shoes are so completely a requirement for school that the kids probably could not even attend if they did not have new shoes. We no longer buy an entire new wardrobe for back-to-school, however, because the boys outgrow theirs at an alarming rate, so we just get a couple of things at a time. And they don’t even get their supply lists now until the first day of classes, so that also has to wait. #2 daughter’s school shopping is of course hundreds of dollars worth of college textbooks, for which I simply get the bill.

The ceremonial breakfast on the first day of school includes a special breakfast, a table decorated with silly stuff, and cups full of pens and pencils. Here we have the silly decorations and cups full of pencils — but no breakfast. This is because it is not the first day of school yet. That won’t be till Friday. But #2 daughter is leaving tomorrow. And today we are going out to breakfast. So no breakfast on the table. But we didn’t want her to feel left out, so we are having the silly stuff anyway. Then the breakfast out, and then she has to go to work while the boys and I continue our shopping. I think the whole back-to-school ritual at our house is becoming outdated. Soon it will be purely vestigial — new shoes and pencils in their coffee cups.

Although yesterday was largely about shopping, I did manage to get a bit of knitting done. Here is the left front of Brooklyn, getting as long as the back. You can see why I rarely show pictures of Brooklyn. It is dull. With the stockinette rolling as it does, you cannot even see the shape — which is, after all, pretty dull itself. My grandmother would never knit anything in dark colors, even if that was what the recipient really wanted, because it was just too dull. If you wanted a sweater from her, you had better like turquoise or orange. But often the things that are really fun to knit or interesting to post are not what a person actually wants to wear. So here is Brooklyn, dull or not, on its way to becoming a handsome track jacket for handsome #1 son. He is disappointed that it will not be completed in time for the first day of school, but I am sure he will get over it, especially since it will be 90 degrees out on that day.

Now, I have something else to say about Back to School. Over at Feebeeglee’s, where I could not comment on it (some quirk of my computer, I suspect), there was a post about the separation of families. That is, in traditional societies, families stayed together and worked together. Now, the kids go off to school separately and the parents go off to their separate jobs. This is rather sad. I have many happy memories of my days as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, working alongside my husband and children in the garden and in our home. We still relied on my husband’s income from his job in town, though.

I work with a family — That Man and The Empress are husband and wife and The Princess is their daughter — and The Poster Queen and I have often speculated that we might not enjoy working all day with our husbands. We would have fewer topics of conversation in the evening, it seems to us, and less of a respite from work, when we needed a respite. Less of a respite from home, too, if we ever felt we neded one. Just less variety overall.

#2 daughter and #1 son work together. #1 daughter worked in the same doctor’s office where they now are, and I suppose #2 son will do the same when he is ready for a student job. We turn out a consistently good product around here, so there seems to be no reason for the dynasty to fall. They enjoy it.

So I was thinking about that, and then there was a conversation in the choir room at church on parents and back-to-school. The choir is full of teachers, and they were expressing the common belief that parents look forward to getting rid of their kids and are “ecstatic” at sending them back to school all day so they can get them out of the house. This is widely believed, I know, but it has never been true for me. I am at work while they are at school, so I can’t exactly say that I miss them, but it is nice, in the summer, to be able to have lunch with my children. I certainly never think, “Oh, goodie! I can get rid of my kids now!”

Does anyone?