Poof! There went the summer

The entire month of August seems to be a struggle. Merely flipping the calendar page sends shivers up my spine because there, somewhere near the end of the month, is the dreaded first day of school. It’s the day with which both children and parents have an exceptional love/hate relationship. Most children are at least somewhat excited; the chance to once again see their friends and drive someone else besides their mothers crazy is appealing to anyone. The parents, well in need of a break, are also anxious for the school year to start, and I believe some even perform a ritualistic dance of joy when the bus pulls away on the first day, robes swaying and coffee cups still in hand.
But despite the shiny new pencils and pristine folders, there are some rather obvious reasons why going back to school is so hard. It goes without saying that children are not looking forward to getting up early and doing homework, and funny enough, the parents are dreading the same things. But for some, like me, we fear a little more.
We are afraid that we just spent three months with our kids and that in some weird way, we wasted the summer. That somehow, despite the fourteen bottles of sunblock we went through, it all just wasn’t enough.
A look back at the summer might better explain this odd phenomenon…
June. School is out and children spend the first two weeks sleeping in and staying up late because they can. They are happy to be home, so no major outings are planned. Hey, it’s June. We’ve got all summer, right? Once the end of June arrives, everyone is going stir crazy and remembers that daytime television isn’t really what it’s cracked up to be, so the outings and the play dates start slowly, and then come to a screeching halt once the holiday hits.
July. The Fourth of July, a single day that requires nothing more than throwing some burgers on the grill and staying up until 10:30 to watch fireworks, seems to take up the first solid week of July. There is nothing planned and nothing to do except focus on the holiday and make patriotic crafts and cupcakes with red, white, and blue sprinkles. And it seems that even before the cupcakes are gone, so is the month. July goes faster than a kid down the slip-and-slide and before you know it, the main aisles of the stores are full of glue sticks and crayons and you refuse to look at it because it’s only July.
August. It hits harder than a water balloon, and as a parent you suddenly realize that all of the educational activities you wanted to do with your kids, things like museums and science projects and improving reading skills, have all been ignored for the lure of the lazy summer. You had wanted to have a nice and calm ease into the school year, wanted to be completely organized for a change and not have to run around on the first day unpacking the backpack that was still full of last year’s papers. But there is no time for organization. No. You have to cram an entire summer’s worth of extracurricular fun into a week’s time because it just feels like the right thing to do. You take a last minute beach vacation and do flash cards in the car until someone gets sick. You take along a book about marine life and learn to identify one of the seashells that you hastily glued onto a photo frame for a memorable keepsake of the summer. Not surprisingly, you bought the photo frame at the store where you also picked up a handful of sharpened #2 pencils and a roll of paper towels for the school supply list.
Out of the blue, the first day of school arrives, and kids, in their resilient and amazing way, smile for their back-to-school photograph and head off to school, well-learned and semi-rested. Parents, some weary, some teary, take a deep breath and go about their little dances. Listen carefully enough after the roar of the bus goes by. You just might hear them.


Maureen Locher said…
Karrie, you have captured summer perfectly from sleeping in in June to July 4th through August. Why does the 4th take up so much time? Why? And to know I'm not the only one whose kids have filled backbacks all summer long is comforting.
~ Maureen :)

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