Back to school routine

Hooray!  Boo hoo!  Ugh!  Waa!  Cheers!  
The first day of school brings on many emotions for members of the family.  Kids may be apprehensive or nervous about a new school year, parents may have their heart strings pulled a bit as they watch their child embark on another older year of academics.  There are also the children who sprint away from their crazy mothers who have done nothing but yell at them for the past month, and the mothers who kick them onto the bus so that for once they can sit down and listen to the peace and quiet.
Thankfully I fall somewhere in the middle.  Having endured a long and fun-packed summer of sun, my family was more than ready for school to start.  By mid-August we all were vacation zombies, not able to function without running to the next bit of summer that we had to squeeze in before the first day of school.  No sleep, meals that consisted of cleaning out bags of potato chips and a scoop of peanut butter, and general brain mush had turned us into a moving glob of sunscreen and bug repellant.  We were all ready for this bit of normalcy and routine, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t miss our adventurous, care-free days of youthful bliss.
When my oldest daughter started kindergarten I was an emotional mess.  Through tears of joy and sadness, I decided to best fill my day with something productive and overdue – I cleaned out the car.  
I’d like to believe that saying about people with clean houses lead dull lives also applies to one’s vehicle, because if that’s true, I am one wild and exciting person.  Cleaning the car is no small feat, especially after a long summer of activity.  I remember that day so many years ago with disgusted vividness—pulling crusty french fries from beneath car seats, scrubbing mud from floor mats, and vacuuming the vacation sand from everywhere else.  It’s enough to make a person get a little angry, and maybe enough to make a person glad that summer is (sniff) over and that it’s about time those little dirty filthy kids of mine (sniff) got out of my car and messed up something else for a change.
But that is the bittersweetness of the first day of school, when suddenly they are messing up someone else’s stuff, and at the same time, that someone else is there to lead and guide them while you sit idly at home, with a bottle of Armor All, a rag, and a pocket of soggy tissues.  
Oh, and a clean car.
Ever since that day I have made it an annual routine, that on the first day that all of my children venture back into the hands of someone else, I use my first ounce of free time to de-summer and de-child the vehicle.  I clean the seats, the windows, the floors.  I haul out the trash and scrub dried up lemonade from the cup holders.  And when it’s all done I replenish supplies of hand sanitizer and granola bars for the extra curricular limousine that my car has instantly transformed into, now that school is back is session.
Just before I close the door, there’s something that catches my eye tucked up under the seat.  I reach and feel and tug, and it seems that the very act of pulling a stray kid meal toy out that has been somehow wedged beneath the driver’s seat is cleansing to more than my car, it also does wonders for my soul.  An act of finality of a summer well spent.


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