I grew up going to public school. Homeschooling wasn’t really on our radar, so we just went to school like everybody else. Because of that, many of my childhood memories center around the traditional brick and mortar elementary building.
Today I delight in the education my own children are receiving at home. But there are times when I wonder if they’re missing out just a teeny-weeny bit on some of the quirky little experiences that make elementary school so unique, from the cafeteria lunches and tether ball matches to the sprawling monkey bars and big yellow buses.
Fridays during elementary school were particularly fun for me. Not only did they signal the end of a school week, they were also the day when my mom gave us permission to choose chocolate milk from the milk lady in the cafeteria. I could actually walk up to that metal fridge with my fistful of change, drop it into that lady’s hand and say, “Chocolate, please,” just like all the other kids who, I was convinced, had parents who obligingly fed them chocolate milk on a daily basis.
Another childhood highlight was pulling out the school lunch calendar each month and circling a few days for which we could actually purchase a hot lunch rather than lug around the metal Holly Hobbie lunch box and thermos. I found great delight in marking “Cheese Zombies with Tomato Soup and Orange Smiles” on the bright pink xeroxed calendar.
These are the kinds of silly little things that make me long (ever so slightly) for a similar experience for my kids.
As I recently told them about my obsession with chocolate milk, it occurred to me that there was no reason why they, too, couldn’t enjoy such a thing. Hence the birth of a new tradition in the Lawson home: Chocolate Milk Fridays. This tradition gained instant popularity. (Shocking, I know.) And the added perk? They don’t need to carry around a fistful of sweaty change in order to acquire a glass of the stuff.
Chocolate milk isn’t the only tradition that’s taken root around here. We also enjoy a weekend family movie night and Sunday afternoon tea. Last year I enjoyed reading a chapter of Beautiful Girlhood every Wednesday evening with my ten-year-old over a cozy cup of tea.
Other traditions are not weekly but yearly, like making (and devouring) a chocolate log on Lincoln’s birthday, creating an egg-shaped pinata on Easter, and sharing doughnuts and hot chocolate while decorating the Christmas tree.
Traditions can also be daily. The simple yet meaningful rhythms of a story at bedtime or a lavender back rub at the end of a tough day also contribute to the strong and nurturing environment I long to create for my children.
As we slip into our fall routine this year, I’m eager to see what kinds of traditions might make their way into our home. They probably won’t involve big yellow buses or sprawling monkey bars, but they might have something to do with “Cheese Zombies with Tomato Soup and an Orange Smile.” Because family traditions are definitely worth smiling over.
While gulping down her chocolate milk, Julianna writes about family, faith, and the fullness of joy over at Petunia June.