Well, it’s official. Summer bliss has ended. Well, at least the fantasy of summer bliss, which is probably the reason I’m extra depressed. Summer is over and there is NO question that we got a bum deal this year. The months of June and July were cold and rainy almost every day. Then came the oppressive heat. And suddenly, today is the first day of school for kids around here. SCHOOL PEOPLE!!! All we have left now to look forward to and keep spirits up is maybe two weeks of beautiful fall. That is, maybe fourteen days of crisp air, blue skies, and the intoxicating aroma of burning leaves all warmly engulfed in glorious autumn colors. But not fourteen consecutive days. Let’s not get crazy here. I might even be overly generous with that number. The fall offers a wonderful reprieve from the blistering heat and ungodly humidity of summer. But it is fleeting. I’ve learned to live in the moment on those magnificent days because those of us in the Midwest know what lies ahead… Cold darkness lasting about nine months. Yeah, that’s right. I’m not a winter person. I hate winter. I hate being cold. I hate driving in snow. I hate worrying about my kids driving in snowstorms. I hate shoveling snow. I know all you out-doorsy types are probably scoffing at me as you read this. You know who you are. All you snow-mobilers, cross-country skiers, and tobogganors. All you people who go on and on about how beautiful the snow is. Okay, I’ll concede that. After a storm, the pristine snow that blankets the ground and trees is gorgeous. But, that’s only if it happens on a weekend when we don’t have to actually be somewhere. When we don’t have to get the shovels out. And, let’s be honest. It’s only beautiful until the first car drives on the street. Then it quickly turns into dirty, slushy ick. Last March (yes…MARCH – when we dare to entertain thoughts of spring) my daughter tweeted: “If anyone throws a snowball at me, I will murder them” That’s right, the shine of winter had definitely worn off by March.
But, I digress. This post did not start out as a rant against winter. I’ll get to that one in a couple months. No, today I wanted to whine about the fact that school is now in session. No, I don’t have kids in grade school or high school anymore. I don’t have to think about fighting the throngs of crazed mothers at Target frantically checking their school supply sheets arguing with their kids about whether it really matters if they have a box of 16 crayons or 24 and NO she is not buying the box of 64 that comes with the built-in sharpener. No more school lunches for me. And, let me tell you, I am still a little giddy about that one. No more arguments about homework, book reports, art projects (God I hated those), basketball try-outs, practices, or working concessions. Am I a bit wistful about no longer living that chaos? Hell, no. But, there is still a part of me that gets depressed when the first day of school rolls around. I hate the fact that sunscreen and sunglasses are replaced with backpacks and notebooks on JULY FIFTH!! Let us enjoy the break from academic schedules. Don’t remind us five weeks into summer to that we’d better start preparing for its end. Sheesh…
Yes, even those of us without younger kids feel the pain of the first day of school. Only because we know what that really means: back to the grind. I like to think of myself as a glass half-full kind of person, though. So, while back to school heralds the onset of the dark days of winter and the end of sitting on the patio sipping a tropical beverage (which is another fantasy of mine – that NEVER happens), it also means the kids are safely tucked away for six hours a day. For young parents, that translates into six hours of uninterrupted productive accomplishments. For the older set (myself included) it means NO MORE KIDS at stores or malls or anywhere else I may want to go. So, you see, there is always a silver lining.
I just saw my first school bus of the year drive past my house. That’s my cue to head out into the world.