Avocados are apparently in this season, and not just as part of the guacamole you put on your nachos.
I learned this recently when my wife and daughter came home from Target with a couple of shopping bags stuffed with school supplies. This included the requisite notebooks and pens and pencils and binders and folders and all the rest. But the prize, in my daughter’s eyes, was clearly the new JanSport backpack.
The one she’d picked out was a light green affair, adorned with cartoon images of avocados and bowls of guacamole and tortilla chips. It was in inspired choice, in my opinion, and it enlightened me on a couple things: 1) Kids are going to school these days with condiments on their backpacks with zero fear of being pummeled and; 2) JanSport is still in the backpack game after all these years.
We were stocking up on supplies, of course, because the school year has arrived. My daughter Charley, like so many of your kids, returned to school last week. She’s in fifth grade this year.
Yes, I have a fifth-grader. I’m not sure how this is possible.
I’ve often written about my daughter in this column. She’s grown up here, honestly. Through the years many of you have emailed me about Charley after I’ve mentioned her in a piece. You’ve offered advice, or a kind word. More than a few have stressed how important it is to relish these times, because they go by so fast.
You weren’t lying. It seems like she was bouncing into a kindergarten class for the first time just a minute ago. Now she’s starting her last year of elementary school. The other night I was folding laundry when it really dawned on me that, a year from now, I’ll have a middle schooler. After going into a slight shock, I picked myself up off the floor and kept folding that laundry.
But, before we brave the stormy seas of middle school, we still have one more year of elementary to get through, and the girl is legitimately excited. This is the first year she’s changed classes throughout the day, rather than being in the same room with the same teacher the whole time. She thinks she’s hit the big time.
And, of course, there was the first day of school fashion show. Showing up for the first day of school in a new outfit is a long-held tradition. Some even debut new togs for several days at the beginning of the academic year. But by the time the second week rolls around everyone’s back to just wearing their favorite Ninja Turtles shirt.
Charley had her first day of school outfit picked out for weeks. The skirt, shirt, light sweater and necklace were hanging together in her closet, kind of like how Batman keeps his costume at the ready in the Batcave, just in case he has to throw it on at any moment.
I can’t remember any of my first day of school outfits from when I was growing up, but I do remember one I didn’t get to wear. When I was going into ninth grade I wanted to wear a red flannel shirt, unbuttoned, with a T-shirt underneath. This was 1993, right in the middle of Pearl Jam and Nirvana and the whole grunge scene that was going on, and I was shooting for that kind of look. My mom insisted that wasn’t the impression I should show teachers on the first day. A mild argument ensued, but I relented. She was right, of course. I think I waited until, like, the third day to wear my Kurt Cobain flannel.
And so, my girl began her fifth-grade year. She had all the things she needed. The pens and paper and books. And a mom and dad that loves her.
And she’s got that avocado backpack. The school year goes down a little easier with some chips and guacamole, apparently.