My newly minted middle schooler got into my car.

“How was the first day of school?” I turned and asked anxiously.

“GREAT!” came the loud and decisive answer.

I sighed a huge sigh of relief, having remembered how confusing and stressful the first day of a brand new middle school had been for me.

I drove off, leaving the chaos of the first day of school pick-up frenzy in the distance from my rear view mirror. I instantly felt calm.

“So, tell me about your new teachers.” me.

“I don’t know any of them that well yet. But they are ALL very strict!” 12-year-old.

“All of them?” me.

“All of them. They all spent the day giving us their rules. And they all have different rules! So I will have lots of rules to remember, and I will have to be sure to remember the correct rules with the correct teacher!” 12-year-old.

The kid seemed to have it all figured out! I thought to myself rather proudly.

“That’s okay. We are not afraid of strict teachers.” I threw in my encouragement.

“Both of your 5th and 6th grader teachers were very strict. They both were great teachers, and you loved them.” I added.

“But I DO have a problem.” 12-year-old said dramatically.


“What’s that?” I looked into the rear view mirror.

“My backpack.” 12-year-old.

“The Zuca?” I asked.

The Zuca

We bought this beautiful and mighty Zuca backpack to help our child start the new middle school right. It cost us a small fortune too. What could be wrong?

“It is too big.” 12-year-old.

“That’s the whole idea! It is a large capacity backpack, so you can easily fit in all your school stuff, including your textbooks!” me defending the Zuca.

It is also on double-stacked big rollers, and one of its specialties is that it can even be rolled up and down the stairs.

“My Language Arts teacher requires us to put our backpacks under our chairs within 10 seconds. No backpacks are allowed anywhere else in the classroom, definitely not in the aisles. She said it is for safety reasons.” 12-year-old.

“The Zuca can’t fit under your chair?” me.

“It can. It is just very hard to get it in. It took me a whole minute to put it under my chair. I timed it myself.” 12-year-old.

“Did she complain about you?” me.

“No. She was at the door greeting new students when I was putting my backpack under the chair. But a minute is way longer than 10 seconds. I don’t want to make her upset everyday with my backpack.” 12-year-old.

“Humm…let’s give it a couple of days, and see if she really mean 10 seconds.” I wasn’t giving up on the Zuca just yet.

“No. This backpack is also not good for me during lunch.” 12-year-old grew adamantly against the new backpack.

“How does your backpack bother your lunch?!” me.

“In middle school, we have to carry our backpack with us everywhere we go. We can’t just leave it in the classroom all day like I used to in my old school anymore. So, I have to bring it to cafeteria.” 12-year-old.

“It came with huge wheels, you don’t have to CARRY it.” me.

“All the other kids carry their backpack on their backs, so they can carry their lunch trays with both hands. I had to carry my lunch tray with both hands, and still have to pull my backpack!” 12-year-old exclaimed.

I imagined my 12 year old balancing a lunch tray with hot food and cold drink, and struggling with the shining Zuca. My sympathy for this poor child was very mild.

Later in the day, I picked up my 4th grader from our elementary school. And I immediately asked, “Tasterbach! How would you like to swap backpacks with your sister?”

Tasterbach was grinning big. My baby was thrilled to have the big new Zuca.

On the second day of school, my 7th grader greeted me at our pick-up spot wearing the old backpack, and carrying some notebooks and binders using both hands.

“This backpack is too small. Every class requires its own notebook and binder. I can’t fit it all in.” 12-year-old.

Our baby's old backpack

So much for free hands to carry the lunch tray.

That night, we had a family discussion surrounding the backpacks.

“What’s wrong with this backpack? This is obviously the most ideal backpack of the three.” my husband pointed at an old dark gray and green backpack.

“Both of its pouches are broken.” I answered.

“Is that all?” hubby laughed.

“The side pouches are for snacks and water! Very important.” me, examining the gray and green backpack.

“Maybe you are too old for snacks now.” I thought out loud.

“NO!” both kids shouted back at my suggestion.

“You should use my old college backpack. It is huge. It is the best!!” hubby, as he run off to find his old treasure.

He came back with a very old blue backpack. An enormous old backpack. The kind that you can go overnight backpacking trips with.

The really old college backpack

“NO!” 12-year-old.

“Look! It can store all your things and more, and it has no rollers, so you should be able to easily squeeze it under your chair.” Hubby grew very excited for the prospect of putting his old college backpack back into commission.

“NO!” 12-year-old.

“But this is the best backpack ever! I love this backpack.” hubby shook both hands at it.

“NO!” 12-year-old.

“Why not? I bet you can’t even buy one like this anymore.” hubby began pleading like an used car salesman.

“It is too old.” I finally chimed in, “And too big!”

For now, we settled on the old gray and green backpack with the holed side pouches, and will go to a bag store over this weekend to find the backpack that is just right.

The backpack with holed side pouches

School started a week ago, and the backpack is the only matter that we had to fuss over. This school year is off to a great start.

Related post: Over the Years
A Grade School Graduation Party

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  1. [...] Big Trouble and Small Trouble for the New School Year Category: Humor, Kids, Parents You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site. [...]