A Wishlist for the First Day of School
But first, finish your waffle. We have to leave for the bus stop in two minutes.
My kids start a new year of school today.
This seems shockingly early to me, as my experience growing up was always a first day of school closer to Labor Day. Then again, everything associated with my kids comes sooner than I think; the little babies I balanced on my shoulder not that long ago are now full-fledged Big Kids with backpacks and pencil cases and a stack of folders with their names on them. Time moves at lightspeed when you’re the grown-up, and so we might as well start school now.
I’m looking forward to the school year ahead, and not just because my kids have gone nearly-feral over the past two and half months. I know that it’s going to be another tremendous jump forward for them, that the kids we photograph smiling on the porch in their new outfits today will look like babies compared to the kids we’ll take After pictures of around Memorial Day. There’s new subjects to take on, new experiences to be had, and new friends to be made.
I have big hopes for the year ahead, and though I plan to share these directly with my children (they don’t subscribe to the newsletter), I want to share them with you today.
Won’t you indulge me?
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I hope you’re not too scared. A new school year is a daunting task, and it’s easy for us grown-ups to forget just how big those hallways—and those fifth-graders—seem when you’re little.
I hope you know that everyone else is nervous today, too, though—even the teachers.
(Especially the teachers.)
I hope you feel welcome in your school, and I hope that you make others feel welcome, too. Appreciating people for who they are is easy to do, even if adults make it look hard. It’s not hard, but it is vital.
I hope you’re excited to use those new school supplies. The joy of a freshly-sharpened pencil doesn’t fade when you get older. I hope that something in your new pencil case makes you as happy as my set of NFL-logo pencils made me when I was your age.
Hmm. I hope I can find some of those NFL pencils on eBay. (Not for you. For me.)
I hope you see each blank notebook as a new world ready to be filled with information, knowledge, and maybe a few doodles.
I hope I can pretend to be surprised when you show me the cool “S” doodle you just ‘invented’.
I hope you’re not afraid to raise your hand. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing the answers, so long as you’re listening for them when they come.
I hope you behave in class, but I also hope you get to experience the singular joy of landing a perfectly-timed joke, the kind that makes even the teacher laugh.
I hope you know that jokes lose something with each re-telling, so choose your spots.
I hope you discover new books that you love. Also, if they still read Hatchet in school, I hope you understand that you would not do as well in the wilderness as that kid did. You have indoor-kid genes, and that’s fine. Speaking of which—
I hope you win all your Pokémon trades, but not by too much.
I hope you don’t take that previous statement as permission to take your Pokémon cards to school, but rather an admission that I have to get lucky every time, and you only have to get lucky once.
I hope you like the lunch they serve at in the cafeteria. Also, if it’s Fiestada Pizza, I hope you tell me so I can accidentally show up that day.
I hope you have enough time to eat your lunch, and that you don’t spend the entire period talking with your friends instead of eating.
I know that you will, though, and I hope that it’s the best part of your day.
I hope that the slang you bring home from those conversations isn’t too annoying, but I will do my best to understand what you’re saying regardless, bruh.
I hope you find a sport that you love. There’s so much that can be gained from practicing, learning the benefits of teamwork, and from brushing off the losses and scrapping for the wins.
I hope that it is not travel baseball, because I would like to retire someday.
I hope you don’t lose the expensive water bottle we bought you because we were tired of the cheap ones breaking.
I hope you know that even if you feel like you have to be a big kid on the playground, you can always come home and hug your stuffed animals at the end of the day.
(And maybe your parents, too.)
I hope you stay safe. I’m not going to get into all the different things both big and small that I mean when I say that, but just know that it’s all I ever think about.
I hope you don’t think about that at all.
I hope you like whoever you’re sitting next to, and I hope you won’t have to be separated by the teacher for talking too much. (That’s what lunch is for.)
I hope you make new friends, even as you keep the ones you have today. There’s a chance that someone walks into your classroom today and stays in your life forever.
I hope you don’t think about any of this. I hope you don’t weigh this day down with all sorts of heavy emotion and significance and drama the way your parents are. I hope you just take the first day of a new school year as it comes—a new day full of possibilities, one that will be followed by many more like it.
But seriously, please don’t lose that water bottle.
—Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)
Where in the #@&% is Glen From Cincinnati? WEEK 4!
As you may know by now, we’re in the midst of a months-long chase of a culinary supervillain here on The Action Cookbook Newsletter. The diabolical Glen from Cincinnati is traversing the country, visiting new restaurants in search of ideas he can steal and twist toward his end goal of creating something called “Cincinnati-Style Gumbo”.
Each week, Glen—who’s gotten a little cocky—drops cryptic clues as to where he is, and it’s up to you to pin him down to a single, real restaurant somewhere in the United States. You can read more about the scoring system—and the prizes for guessing right—in this post:
In Week 1, he went to The Starving Rooster in Minot, ND.
In Week 2, he narrowly avoided capture at the Edinburgh Diner in Edinburgh, IN.
In Week 3, he paid a visit to Promise Land BBQ in Woodstock, AL.
It’s Week 4, and he’s on the run again. He dropped his latest set of clues in the comments on Monday’s subscribers-only post, and in case you missed them, I’m resharing them here:
Up on a hill, and near a green wood
There lies a restaurant wherein you could
Find meat and cheese on crusty bread
That’s been paired with tasty spreads
Walk to the park, enjoy the view
Sunset on the water, buildings too
Unwrap the paper, have it your way
This sandwich shop sure ain’t subway
All guesses should be submitted via this Google Form (and not in the comments, as we don’t want to spoil it for others.)