I’m finally recovering from bronchitis, and in the throws of revving up for back-to-school. Being involved in school boards and parent organizations adds an interesting bit of stress to the process. EVERYONE! STARTED! PANICKING! on August 1st. I received no fewer than eight emails that started with a variation on, “Can you believe the first day of school is around the corner?”
It’s the Christmas-in-October syndrome. It was the beginning of August. We have time. We have long, lazy days (hopefully some of them actually hot here in Chicago) ahead of us. There are still fireflies to catch, barbecues to attend, water fights to lose, and some serious playing to be done. My boys turn six on the first day of school. My Little Little starts preschool in a few weeks. I want to be here with them, and the world seems to be telling me I’m already behind in starting them for school…in three weeks.
My kids sweated it out at sports camp. They attended class for a week. I read with them every day. We do math and science projects five days a week. We need some unstructured fun time, not hurry-up-and-wait time in August. Tomorrow we see class lists. Yesterday we picked out thermoses. But today we bought our first baseball mitts and big boy bat (it was my first venturing out into the world in a week. Success!) We made ice cream. Middle Little daily checks the progress of our sad little tomato crop. (They’re ripening!)
The last week they’ve been patient and good as I have been laid up with bronchitis. They sit with me on occasion. They play hilariously with each other when they’re bored listening to me hack like some octogenarian who’s been smoking unfiltered cigarettes since he snuck his daddy’s pack back when he was eleven. We’ve been working our way through the Star Wars saga, and thus far I am proud to report their favorite seems to be The Empire Strikes Back. They are nonplussed by the interstellar trade negotiations from Episode One.
Tomorrow, assuming my lungs stay in my chest cavity, we’ll venture out for real play time at a park…unless it’s raining, in which case my secret stash of Shrinky Dinks and t-shirt stencils will be revealed. Tonight they’ll get a late bedtime if they want to gaze at the Supermoon.
Our paperwork is in, our backpacks purchased. I am quietly ignoring all of the ramped-up back-to-school emails to the extent that I can. There’s always time to feel behind for the next great important urgent school function. We will never have almost-six and a-little-older-than-two summer again. Is this the last summer the boys will willingly hold my hand in a parking lot? Is this the last summer that Big Little will sit next to me as I read and lean his head on my shoulder? Will Middle Little ever again want to put on an art show for me? I’m almost certain Little Little will never have quite this squeaky voice or not-quite-accurate manner of putting together sentences. This is now. We’re not back-to-school.
This is back-to-summer. We’re prepared and the dismissal bell hasn’t rung.