Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 10.05.05
Stanstead, Quebec


School Daze

So far this year, our morning routine has been anything but. That's because unlike previous school years, we all head out the door at various times for various destinations, including Abby. She started school this fall. Pre-K, to be exact, which is more like "school-lite."

Regardless, this means hauling her out of bed with the others. The difference in her case is that she is keen.

"I'm going to school again?" she said excitedly after Day 2.

Unfortunately, that keen streak does not include eating breakfast. It can take her a full morning to eat a piece of toast. Because of her medical condition, she also has to drink a cup of milk-like formula in the morning. The problem is it smells like yeast and feet.

We had the hardest time getting Abby off the baby bottle because she refused to drink this formula in a cup. In a bottle, the smell was capped by the nipple and mitigated by the infantile comfort of simply having a bottle.

We tried everything to get her to switch: adding Chocolate Quik, putting it in a sip cup, letting her pick her own "special" cup, coaxing, threatening, everything short of drinking it ourselves - I mean, come on, it's disgusting!

Finally, she went cold turkey and now drinks her four glasses or so a day. Mind you, we have to stand right over her saying, "Come on, drink it up. I don't care if you don't like it. It's important."

"Be patient," she sometimes replies.

Don't you hate it when they do that?

Getting a glass of this stuff down is now part of the morning procedure, along with getting her dressed, fed, and medicated, yelling at the others to get out of bed, grooming ourselves, and cleaning up whatever the dog destroyed in the night.

We've been trying to help matters by preparing lunches and formula the evening before. Unfortunately, you can't prepare in advance for those last-minute school-related emergencies, the ones that begin with the phrase "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you…"

For instance, James informed me one morning that his teacher said he had to bring deodorant to gym. He's 9 years old! What 9-year-old boy needs deodorant? Yes, they're stinky at that age but they're supposed to be. It's nature's way. I suspect its part of this marketing ploy to get pre-teen boys to buy body sprays like Axe and Red Zone. These are vile odors made worse by the fact 9-year-old boys don't know the meaning of the word "subtle."

So a typical morning might include a thesis on "Why I Don't Care What You're Teacher Says (Even Though You Have To Do What Your Teacher Says)."

Said thesis is interspersed with asides such as "Abby, take a bite" and "I have no idea where your headband is" and "Who got jam all over the fridge door?"

All this would be a piece of cake if it weren't for the fact that I, too, have to leave for work every morning - the first time in nearly two years. What's more, I have to wear a jacket and tie. This heightens the stress level considerably. I mean, come on: a jacket and tie!

I'm also determined to walk Abby to school, both for my health and to cut back on gasoline consumption. It's a 10-minute walk to her school, which means with Abby it could take about an hour.

"Look, a yellow sign. Why do leaves fall? I wish Grammie and Grampa would come. Look at the truck. A bus!"

"Come on, Abby, let's move."

"I like school. I'm glad I have a dog."

"Hey, I know! Let's race!"

Lately I've been pulling her in a wagon, which gets me there on time. But I then have to pull the empty wagon to work. There's something ridiculous about a man in a jacket and tie pulling a wagon. Who am I kidding; there's something ridiculous about me in a jacket and tie.

I suppose we'll eventually get the routine down, only to be undone once the snow starts falling and the dreaded snowsuits come out. Look for the guy in dress shoes pulling a sled.