It’s that wonderful time again, and everyone in the area has been busy preparing for this marvelous event, which happens – with regularity – once a year.
Times have changed since my children were school age, but the signs are still the same each year: All the store windows are decorated with winter apparel although it may be 90 degrees outside. Yellow stripes in the center of many roads are getting a fresh layer of yellow paint – the better to be seen – and car loads of paper, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes are being bought. All mothers – and sometimes fathers – are walking around in a daze with a wild expression in their eyes.
THE KIDS ARE GOING BACK TO SCHOOL AGAIN!
By the time this past June had rolled around, I’d had it with lunch money that 1) could not be found; 2) was taken by mistake by the kid who was already bringing his or her lunch from home, or 3) was spent the day before on pencils or notebooks (can’t have too many of those). I was also tired of making sure school clothes were clean, gym stuff washed, books returned on the right day, and projects gotten to school in one piece. I was simply tired of coordinating three kids, one bathroom, breakfast – and myself – in the hour before the school bus arrived.
So, when the doors to the school closed at the beginning of summer, I was usually ready for the extra hour of sleep, the quiet time with my coffee before I went to work, and not having to worry about who got what, and when, to school.
But after about two weeks of this, the implication of school vacation hit – and hard. Suddenly there were no clean clothes around, bath towels were still draped all over the house when I returned from work, the milk was often sitting on the kitchen table, the refrigerator generally empty. I could usually hang meat in the house, because no one was there to let the kids know that keeping a house at 65 degrees was not really necessary just because doors to the outside were regularly left open.
Since it was summer, and the children all slept late, there never seemed to be a good reason for getting them to bed before I did. None of the usual arguments – “You’ll flunk your test tomorrow if you don’t get enough sleep;” “The teacher will make you wear toothpicks to help keep your eyes open;” or “You’ll miss the bus and will have to walk to school,” – had any utility in the summer, so quiet late evenings were also gone.
But – by the end of August I knew that a lovely time was coming around again. When I came home from work, I knew the house would look like I had left it, I could sip my coffee in the morning, the refrigerator was usually still full, and my milk bill would return to normal since I no longer had to replace what had turned sour.
In my heart I knew, of course, that it would only be a short while before I would return to the lunch money, school projects, and book problems. But for a few weeks, I joined other mothers who with the wild look removed from their eyes – and with barely concealed pleasure – said goodbye as their children stepped onto the school bus.
We waved to our offspring as they left, and silently whispered to their teachers: