Last week I noticed everyone on Facebook posting how sad they were that the summer was over. Warm weather state residents didn’t miss a chance to brag that it was still quite warm in their home towns, but I for one am appreciating the cooler nights. The only down side to that is how COLD the water has become at the beaches. I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t stand swimming in cold water. Warm water is the only thing I’d really love about living in the south. Then, wisely, someone posted that it was not really the weather that was bumming us all out about the passing of summer – it was the back to school aspect. Back to school represents back to seriousness, back to reality. Even if much of your reality continues through the summer, I think we all harbor a remembrance of summers off as children. You always had big dreams for the summer – even if they didn’t become reality, the months of dreaming alone made summer worth it. The best day of summer was always the first day of summer vacation – the best week was that last week in June… it was almost like bonus time – summer didn’t really start until July 1st – that’s when you started the ticking of you mental summer clock.
I have to admit, though, when I was a kid, fall was my favorite season. Don’t misunderstand, I loved summer vacation and I was always sad when it came to an end, but there was something about fall that really appealed to me. It represented the chance to do things differently – better. The chance for new and good things… the chance to start again. Late every August, I would trudge off to the store with my mother and sisters to buy school supplies. I’d look at the clean, new notebooks, and although I got butterflies in my stomach, and I hated the thought of homework and meeting the other students in my class, I’d also think “this year, I’m going to keep everything neat.. this year, I’m going to get straight As in every subject… this year I’ll actually USE my agenda book.” I’ve spent my whole life attending or working in a school, which continued that feeling on into my adulthood. I worked in a preschool for bosses with yellow school bus ties that they wore every September. Some years, I’ve done both, and my mind will forever function on the Summer Ends When School Starts mentality (Just ask my husband – we once had a very serious debate about when “the end of the summer” actually was. I think I won.)
In my house, as a parent, I’m seeing this back to school thing with different eyes. I see the war between “happily anticipating new things” and “anxiety about new things that are out of my control.” For example, there are the worries, “I don’t know anyone in my class?” “What if I don’t like my teacher?” “What if the work is too hard?” (…and this year’s new ones…) “What if I can’t open my locker?” “What if I’m late to class?” Lots of times the anxiety jumps to the forefront, but I talk them down, and the excitement – it’s there. It’s my job to find it, and pull it out. Make them embrace it. Who does not need a new beginning? If you’re seriously well-adjusted, you could make a case for every day being a new beginning, but how many of us are THAT well adjusted? I’ll take once a year. And New Year’s Day as a new beginning? For one, it’s the middle of the winter – winter before the holiday, same old winter after the holiday. After the holiday is over we go back to exactly the same routine as before. We don’t even pull different bins of clothes from the closet. Face it, New Year’s just doesn’t work the way back to school does. I’ll take my anxiety and my new beginning in Early September, thank you.
And a nice stack of blank loose leaf paper, too.