A Back‑To‑School Mess


Sep 4, 2015


The first day of school is upon us.  Although the weather is still 35C or more, feeling much more like summer, the annual first day of the school year arrives not a moment too soon. As the at-home father of two girls who finally had their fill of summer holidays, I counted the minutes until the first school bell rang. But, as is typical of our family, a day we had meticulously planned the week before ended with everyone screaming at each other in chaos.

Our two daughters now attend full-day school at different locations, so the effort to coordinate dropping them to school takes more time and thought. The night before, we carefully laid our plans: our younger daughter and I would drive to the first school as soon as it opened; then, I would hurry to meet my wife and older daughter at the other school. We would attend both events like good parents do.

I should have known we were in for trouble when I forgot to take my phone.  (Sidenote: It’s incredible to me that there was a time when we really made do without phones in our pockets.) I dropped off my younger daughter and was ready to udpate my wife, only to find that I had no phone. No matter, I thought. I would proceed directly to the other school to meet my daughter and wife with big smiles. Big smiles are very important; you have to show the teachers and other parents that you are a perfectly normal person!

I entered the gymnasium where the children gathered wearing a big grin and wondering nervously where were my wife and daughter? I waited… and waited… and waited. The time to arrive was ticking away.  Finally, I ran outside, ran down the street, found my car and returned home, where my wife and daughter screamed at me.

“We’re locked in the house!”

It took a minute for me to figure out what this even meant. My wife left her keys in the carport, which I locked the night before. My car was parked outside, so I did not unlock the carport door before dropping off my younger daughter. I had also locked our front gate when I left, so now my wife could not figure out how to leave the house, nor could she get to her car.

Of course, when we saw each other, we said:

“Hello dear, how are you?”

“Oh I was locked out my love, can you please unlock the door?”

“Of course, what a pity. I love you.”

“I love you more!”

Okay … maybe it went something more like this:

“Where have you been!?!”

“Where have you been?!”

“You locked us in the house”

“How can I do that?”

“My house keys are in the car!”


“This is stupid stupid stupid!”

“What is wrong with us?!?”

I managed to drop off my older daughter at school just before the last-minute bell, squealing out of our driveway while my wife banged on my car door in anger.

Voila! Another perfect first day of school planned down to the moment when it became a complete mess.


Written By Rajat Soni

Rajat is an Indian-American stay-at-home father of two girls, aged 7 and 3, one of whom was born in India. After working as a lawyer and raising his girls for several years in Mumbai, he moved to the U.S., where he became the primary caretaker for his daughters while his wife started a new job. He’s interested in exploring the role modern fathers play in the lives of their young children.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields *.

The latest in health, gender & culture in India -- and why it matters. Delivered to your inbox weekly.