If it weren’t for the pandemic, the whole world would have once again welcomed the new year with a back-to-school rush.

It was still the same in Japan, though, as schools remained open despite the declaration of a state of emergency in key prefectures due to an unprecedented surge in infections. It’s a gamble by the government, but the schools seem to be holding out. But I digress.

This is about how every year we wished that the holidays would never end, and we could eat, play and sleep as much as we wanted. This is about how we always thought that we could just leave eveything, and hope that they would magically fix themselves – Christmas decors would be undone and packed, and dishes would be spic-and-span ready for the next guilt-free feast. But, the sad truth is that things just stay as they lay, and however we deny it, we eventually need to muster the energy to clean up and prep for the return of the regular work and school grind.

Iva would be the first to return to school, ergo, she would be the first to go scrambling for the things that she needed. As always, we would miss at least one, and this year it would be her temperature card, an after-COVID addition to the kids’ daily requisites.

“Daddy, can you help me find my temperature card?” was her welcome when I came home that day, to which I sarcastically added an “And hi, Daddy!” welcome for her.

I later learned that, since she had told her sensei that she left the card at home, Iva was already panicky that she couldn’t find her card, which meant to her that she would be lying to her teacher.

I was surprised that she would even dare comment, “Mommy is good at finding stuff. You are good at finding our trash,” as I helped her rummage through her jungle of a room.

I am learning to appreciate and cherish how our kids are brutally honest, and I really pray that they would carry on their openness with us as they grow up. But what Iva had just remarked really stuck with me. My daughter had just pitched to me my New Year’s resolution right there: to be good at finding stuff, not faults.

Henceforth, I tried to be as “good” as Mommy in my search, and the persistence paid off when I finally caught a glimpse of the blue paper that Iva had been frantically looking for resting in one of her boxes.

“See, I can also be good at finding stuff” was my comment of triumph.

For her part, Iva was relieved that she could face up to her sensei, that her temperature card had indeed been inadvertently left at home. But that would have to wait two more days, as she forgot to bring the same blue card to school the next day.