It’s hard to believe, but school starts this week. On the surface, I think we’re ready. Pencils and glue sticks are packed, teacher and bus assignments are confirmed and both of my kids are proudly sporting new haircuts.
The anticipation of a fresh school year feels bittersweet. This summer, there were plenty of days when my energetic children drove me up the proverbial wall. Like the times I would attempt some awesome craft or activity and fail miserably, only to hear my kids complain, “We’re bored!” (side note: why do those YouTube videos make it look so deceptively easy to create homemade glitter slime?!?). The phrase “too much togetherness” began to resonate in my household, as two siblings who had been in separate classrooms during the school day now found themselves eyeball-to-eyeball for most of their waking hours. Their bickering reached an impressive new level.
School needs to be back in session already, I’d grumble over my lukewarm coffee, feeling frazzled and uninspired.
But in the past few days, as the air turned surprisingly cooler, I found myself wishing summer could stretch on a bit longer.
For all the warm summer nights when my kids stayed up way too late and I worried about them being off their regular schedule, there were mornings when I relished the fact that we didn’t need to wake up early, wrestle with backpacks and lunch boxes, or rush out to meet the bus.
For all the days when I missed the stable routine of school, there were times when I sat back and enjoyed just watching my kids play as the hours passed by, unstructured. I watched them learn about the world through the curiosities of nature, making mud pies in the backyard, chasing frogs at the neighborhood pond, or crafting cozy habitats for roaming pill bugs.
For every time I groused about the heat and humidity, there was excitement in relishing activities that come only with summer, like discovering a new ice cream place, petting prizewinning bunnies at the county fair, or having a water balloon fight in the backyard.
For all the days I felt defeated by my kids’ fighting, there were hours when they played together beautifully, showing me how what they’ve learned in the classroom has expanded their imaginations. They’d play pioneers, traveling around the house with backpacks and setting up blanket forts in the living room. Or they’d practice the old barter system, collecting odd items and trading those for snacks.
For all the moments when I desperately needed to get something done and the rallying cry of “Mama!” filled my ears and stopped me in my tracks, there were moments when I realized with a start that my kids won’t always need me in the same way and that our time together is a gift.
For all the times I let the day-to-day frustrations, the chauffeuring, cleaning, sibling battle refereeing and chaos get the best of me, there were times when I smiled at the happy noise and unabashed silliness that filled our house because it reminded me so much of my own childhood. While I know these moments will still happen once school is back in session, they’ll be less frequent. Like a punctuation mark between two main ideas, a quick interlude from the regular routine.
Summer, we’ll miss you. See you next year!
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