School’s out!!! Teachers clean out classrooms, students clean out desks and lockers, and it all comes home! Did your children come home on the last day of school and drop their backpacks in a corner? Hang them on hooks? Stash them in their bedrooms? Or, did they empty them, purge trash, share their prized artwork with you, wipe them clean and store them for next year? (right)

Girl with BackpackMost of you know by now that I have four kids. For some divine reason, God created them all quite uniquely … please read that I feel unfairly burdened by having to figure out how to parent each differently. Shouldn’t they have to adjust to my parenting style? I’m the grown-up in charge! Didn’t they get the memo? Wasn’t my childhood dream to be an adult so I could finally be the boss of how all things go? I digress … backpacks!

On the last day of school, I asked each child to sit down and share with me what they brought home. Two were willing. One tossed the bag to my place at the table and said I could keep or toss whatever I chose because he was done with it all. He added that he’d tell me about the things I set aside. The second child meticulously sorted things into trash and let-mom-see piles. He then offered to share special pieces with me and told me which items he’d like to save for his memory box. (sigh)

Then there are the girls with whom I have to force the issue. One will hide her backpack in the deep, dark recesses of her closet with hopes of avoiding it forever. This same child will further defer dealing with said backpack by claiming to not know where it is or that it was all torn up and she needed a new one anyway. The other girl-child will obstinately claim that it’s her backpack, so why do I care?! She will defiantly shove her over-stuffed backpack into her cubbie (where I will have to see it every day) not intending to do anything with it until she’s ready to.

I say, force the issue of cleaning out backpacks right away. There are stories here, people!

  • On the last day of school, kids still remember how they felt when they painted that piece in Art Class.
  • They remember what they were thinking when they wrote that opinion paper for English Lit.
  • They still remember who was assigned to their group project, how the project went, who carried their weight and who didn’t, who was easy to work with, and who they hope is on another team next year.
  • This is the opportunity to retrieve artwork before it is permanently creased.
  • This is invaluable reflection time of the past school year, not to mention great bonding time.
  • This is getting to know the person your child is becoming before your very eyes.
  • It’s easier to purge when kids remember what’s important to them. If you wait until you absolutely need the pack again, you’ll probably set aside the contents to review at a later time, which may never happen. (Yes, that’s how those paper piles breed.)
  • Did I mention bonding time with your kiddos?
  • And most importantly, THERE MAY BE A LUNCH BAG IN THAT BACKPACK!!! You don’t want to find that half eaten sandwich, cucumbers and dip on back-to-school day, I guarantee it!

This summer, I’ve been partially successful. All lunch bags are accounted for! The boys’ backpacks are void of school items and being utilized for summer ‘things’. The girls have at least purged the additional bag they took for locker cleaning, and yep, we’re working on the rest.

It’s July. What’s in YOUR child’s backpack?


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