Aaaaand... they're off!
Today marks what I consider the first official day of school in our household as it is the first day in which all three of my children are out the door and off for a full day of school. Annie technically had her first day yesterday, but it was a half-day and with the boys still hanging around watching TV and asking, "what's for lunch" it didn't quite feel like the school year had truly begun.
I will say though that yesterday was beginning to have all the trappings of school days ahead what with Timothy having to pound out the three page paper that accompanied his summer reading assignment and Jack explaining to me all the reasons he is certain he is ready for his summer reading test and couldn't possibly do anything more to prepare himself. Yes...school is here.
If you sense a sigh lurking behind that last statement then you can consider the possibility that you are clairvoyant, or perhaps just mildly perceptive. Take your pick. Either way, you'd be right.
I'm sure it says something about me that I find myself secretly bemoaning the start of school as much as my children do. I try to keep my back to school blues under wraps in the interest of being a positive role model for my children, but I suspect they pick up on my ambivalence from time to time. Say, when my 7 year old inquires as to whether or not I have purchased all of her school supplies, two days before school starts, and I tell her, "Not yet, honey. There's still lots of time." Or, when I pull out her uniform skirt at 6pm the night before school starts and ask her to try it on to see if it still fits. What was I going to do if it didn't?? Or, when I sit at the dining table with a stack of forms to be filled out on one side of me and my checkbook on the other and I proceed to lay my head down and sob, while pounding my fists on the table crying out, "Why, oh why, oh why????"
Okay, maybe that last one didn't really happen. Well, it did...but only in my head.
So, yeah, I'm sure it says something about me. Probably something not so good. Probably something along the lines of how I take too much of my children's stress and struggles to heart and so therefore I find the school year (inevitably far more fraught with stress and struggle than summertime) to be a much greater test of my strength and stamina than those lazy, sun-soaked days of summer. Probably something like that...
Or, maybe it is something much simpler.
Like a 7 year old who is growing up too fast and keeps us all on our toes as she still spends her days playing with her stuffed animals but also worrying about her clothes and her hair. A second grader who has already experienced tricky recess social dynamics and has had to try to find a way to put a protective barrier around her otherwise very tender heart.
Or, the 17 year old heading into his Senior year with so many unknowns ahead. Emails arrive daily about senior meetings, graduation expectations and work to be done toward college applications. It's the first day of school and already I feel we are running hopelessly behind schedule. And yet, I tread carefully because I can see that he too feels overwhelmed and vacillates constantly between trying to maintain a safe, cynical distance from everything that feels too scary and trying to step up to the plate and get the job done.
And then there's the 14 year old, the Freshman just starting out in the high school. He's more than ready on all fronts but given the fact that he was up at 6am this morning, a full hour before he needed to be, I know there are some nerves going into this day. I worry the least about him, my tenacious jungle cat who always lands on his feet, but I still want the best for him.
I'm sure it's all of those things and even just a quiet sort of melancholy that always accompanies the start of school and early fall for me. Feelings tied up in memories that are now 9 years old but still have their place in my heart and in this season.
But, while it's all of those things, some perfectly valid, some totally unnecessary, I'd also like to think...on a lighter note... that some of my reluctance toward the start of school is simply that I like my kids. Because I do. I like having them home. I like the low pressure days of summer when we can just hang out, or talk about sports or puppies or cars (depending on the child) and eat meals at the breakfast counter and spend lazy days together at the lake. I like getting to just be and there is so much less time for all of that once school and sports and real life charges up again.
I know it can't be like that all the time. I get it. I'm an adult living in an adult world. But I like those times and knowing they can't last forever makes them all the more precious and all the more difficult to let go of.
Even now, as I sit in the quiet of my house making lists of all the things I need to accomplish for both my job outside the home and my job here, I feel myself starting to settle back into this routine. It has its advantages for sure. There is a lot that needs to be done that I left undone in the interest of enjoying our summer. And once I start tackling those tasks I know that I will rediscover the joy that comes with seeing a project through to completion and not having a closet that looks like it has been recently ransacked by pirates. Those are good things, too.
But it was a good summer, and I'm sad to see it go.