It’s mid-August and humid as hell. I’m wearing tank tops and flip flops to work to combat the heat and we have yet to take our family summer vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, but already I’m having a bad case of the Back-to-School Blues. It started last weekend when I went to the mall and bought two new backpacks for my kids – a sparkly High School Musical one for my daughter and a rather grown-up blue and orange Gap bag for my soon-to-be second grade son. “No theme this year?” my husband, Michael, asked Jonah when he saw Jonah’s new, two-tone bag in the kitchen.
Jonah’s first backpack for preschool was a cheerful Thomas the Tank engine bag, followed by Spiderman, then Sponge Bob and last year Batman was all the rage. But this year Jonah knew exactly what he wanted and it wasn’t a superhero or a kid themed tote, it was a simple and rather dull bag with a convenient mesh pouch to stow his lunch. The fact that he’s outgrown tacky, Marvel licensed, overpriced backpacks shouldn’t depress me; but for some reason it did. My little guy is growing up, and I’m just not ready.
Adding to my August angst, my daughter Lexi – my baby – is starting kindergarten in three weeks. Just thinking about walking her into class with her school mandated assortment of glue sticks, crayons, Number Two pencils and baby wipes gets me choked up. I now get why three is the new two and why so many people have more babies after they are well past the sippy cup and poopy diaper stage. We don’t want our kids to grow up – because well, that means we’re getting old too. For the record, Lexi still goes to bed and wakes up with a sippy cup. My husband wants to break the sippy cup habit, but I see no reason why we need to aggressively get her to drop the sippy. It’s the last vestige of her toddlerhood. Frankly, I’m more concerned about her obsession with High School Musical and wearing makeup. Let the girl keep her sippy, at least just for a little bit longer.
So while I’m preparing to be a sniveling wreck armed with tissues and a video camera on that first day of school, which oddly falls on a Thursday, my head is already spinning with all of the preliminary fall planning. Back to School night has been inserted in our Outlook calendars. We’ve registered for gymnastics, piano and hip hop classes. And the stress of making it home early enough to tackle second grade homework and is enough to give me hives.
While I was cleaning up the mounting piles of paper in my kitchen the other day, I came across the school’s summer reading list only to realize that I never ordered from Amazon or borrowed from the library any of the recommended reading for either of my kids. In fact, we’ve been completely negligent in getting Jonah to read his requisite 15 minutes a night this summer. Our pattern looks something like this…I threaten. He fights me. I push. He pushes back. I give up. It’s a vicious cycle.
I don’t remember my parents ever making me read during the summer. I know I read because I liked to read but I don’t recall it being an issue – a mandate from the school. It was summer break. We were supposed to catch Fireflies and eat corn and watermelon and play on the Slip n Slide. Now summer comes with reading lists and tutors and flashcards. It’s a few weeks mashed in between the craziness of the beginning of school and the craziness of the end of the year.
What happened to those hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer? I want them back.