backpacks The kids are back in school, although I still can’t get my head around the fact that school starts in August here.

I behaved just like that daddy clown fish in the “First Day of School” scene from Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.” I think I was more excited and even more nervous than my two children. While I was flitting around trying to remember stuff, they took the first morning in their stride, getting up without my dragging them out of bed, donning their new clothes and backpacks, and even enduring, with much patience, my quest to take the “perfect” first day photograph.

As I was getting ready to walk my kids to their bus stop, it struck me how the first day of school is rather like a family reunion. I would hazard a guess that most people have gone to a family reunion of sorts at some point in their lives, so you know that a reunion is very much a ritual with history and group culture that people look forward to (and, maybe, dread, too!)

The first day of school is a ritual from the laying out of clothes the night before to entering your new classroom where you see the kids you know and look forward to seeing (like a favorite cousin), those you tolerate (like an eccentric uncle) and the unknown or new kids (like a new fiancé, who’s meeting your extended family for the first time).

Gauging what your family reunion will be like can be seen in the context of the new school year. Before you anticipate the class photo (family photo) next spring, be prepared for a whole lot of fun, plus a whole lot of learning; a whole lot of eating and a few outings; growth as a person and as a group, and, no doubt, some arguments, butting of heads and miscommunication in between.

Have a great year everyone!

Susan Shifay CheungSusan Shifay Cheung has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and writer. You can contact her at