So, school started again. And R started preschool. Her backpack reaches almost to her ankles, but that didn’t stop her from sleeping with it two nights before school started. She is having a blast at school, but I think A misses her at home.

Every morning, T walks out the door with the kiddies in tow. She drops off Y at the yeshivah, and then continues to walk to Beth Rivkah, where she drops off R. The cool thing is that my office is so close that I can poke my head out the window and wave to my little girlies as they walk by. Contrast that with my colleague Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov, who lives with his family in Munster, Indiana. Here is how he describes his trips to school with his tribe:

I’m a different kind of chassidic dad.

Most chassidic parents raise their children in neighborhoods with other chassidic children. But we live in a mostly secular community, where my wife and I run the local Chabad, and our kids don’t have any local friends that are like them.

But at least we live close enough to a chassidic community with a school that our children can attend and where they have friends.

Now, “close enough” is relative. On a regular school day, we spend close to three hours in the car shuttling the three older kids to and from school. But thankfully, our minivan is equipped with a DVD player, so between videos and an array of handheld gadgets and books, the kids are generally able to pass the time.

(Of course, there are always exceptions, but we won’t get into those now . . .)

So, all this time in the car gives me the opportunity to get to know my kids really well, and—while keeping a safe eye on the road—engage them in all sorts of ways. Whether it’s helping with homework from the front seat, to reminding them to recite the correct blessings on their breakfast (which is always eaten in the car), it’s almost as good as hanging out with them in the family room. Almost, but close enough, which is relative . . .

It’s also a great time for questions. And, trust me, these kids have questions. The other day, on the way home, my 8-year-old asked, “Ta, what did you do today?”

Me: “Um, I prayed, had breakfast, replied to some e‑mails, and made some phone calls. Then I spent an hour preparing a Torah class for later on. After lunch I met a local friend to discuss some ideas to enhance attendance at Shabbat services. Then I replied to some more e‑mails and paid a few bills. And then it was time to head out to pick you guys up.”

Him: “Oh. But what did you do?”

I’m not quite sure what he meant by that, but it definitely got me thinking. Not always is being busy the same as being productive. You can have a fairly busy day, but then look back and question yourself, “What did I do today?”

And if you aren’t reminded of that on your own, I have an 8-year-old who can help out with that.