Summer is ending.
I feel like I looked away for a second, and it ran away from me. Maybe that’s not the best metaphor. We don’t want summer to be an exuberant toddler that gets lost for like seven months . . ..
Ok, let’s try, I zoned out, and suddenly I realize class is over. Better? True, not everyone would mind missing a class, but it’s my idea here.
The fact of the matter is that summer went by fast. September begins next week, and my children will go back to school for another year. As you can imagine, I have mixed feelings about this.
I remember how I used to feel at the end of the summer when I was a kid. I know I felt some regret that my lovely summer days were done, but I also felt a wonderful sense of anticipation. I was a happy student. I loved getting new school supplies: new notebooks, pencils—and lunchboxes? Soooo exciting. I loved being in a classroom, oldest child and people-pleaser that I am. I suspect that I also loved the structure of a classroom on some level. For whatever plethora of psychological reasons, I looked forward to school.
Now that I have kids, I still feel that thrill of anticipation about a new year, new teacher, new friends, and new experiences. But there is another feeling too: sympathy. Yes, I feel bad for my kids. I feel bad that they have to go back to school.
We make the most of our summer around here. We sleep in; hang out in pajamas; eat late breakfast; lounge around reading; go to the beach; play tennis; ride bikes; visit friends; take vacations. The kids learn during the summer, but they do it on their terms. They are happier, more relaxed people during those two short months.
Sure, I feel bad for me too. I will miss spending time with my babies—they are awesome company and we have such fun together in the summer. It is a luxury. I am a parent who gets to hang out with my kids all summer. I get to be a kid in a lot of ways. And I miss them terribly when school starts. Of course when they go back to school, I have the entire day to myself. I can write. I can go to the grocery store by myself. I can get to the list of household projects that I have been ignoring. Their rooms will be clean. All of that is nice, but I still feel bad.
I think the root of the sympathy I feel is that school is just a heck of a lot different from the mid-70s and 1980s. Aside from the fact that I was a big nerd who loved being taught, my school was fun. We had real recess. (My son has “lunch” recess, which means he skips eating so he’ll have more time to play.) We had art class. (Our elementary school does NOT have an art teacher!) We had fun assemblies; winter and spring concerts; talent shows; science fairs; enrichment opportunities (I remember taking a cake decorating class one time . . ..)
Just to underscore my point, I can count on one hand (not all 5 fingers either) the number of times last year my son responded, “Great!” (or “Epic!”) to the question: “How was school today?” Each of those times was when they had a special day with a visitor or a field trip.
I don’t expect them to love school all the time, but it would be nice to hear more “greats.” My daughter (who gave a lot of “greats” last year) is only starting second grade and still likes school. I think that was the year it stopped being fun for my son, and I hope she can hang on longer. I honestly don’t blame him for being bored/annoyed by school—the last couple of years have felt like drudgery. Finish one assignment; start another; finish that; start another, ad infinitum. Where’s the fun, people?
So, yes. I have my reservations about sending them back, but they won’t know about it. I am the eternal optimist and great pretender for my kidlies, and I have hope that this will be a great year. I will cheerfully pack the lunches and pull them from their beds for the next ten months. I will be excited about their new teachers and be enthusiastic about the assignments (except that rotten common core math—I don’t know if I can keep my mouth shut. Blech.)
I have hope that my kids will have really wonderful teachers who understand them and challenge them to do more than just the minimum. I have hope that Pete and Nevie will enjoy school.
I say goodbye to summer with the hope that this will be a year of a lot more GREATs.