Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Back-To-School Bonds

It's been a long hot summer and those of us with kids on a “traditional” calendar will be swapping out our sunscreen for schoolbooks and tan lines for carpool lines in no time at all. My kids and I have had a lot of fun catching up with each other these past few months, although we're getting to that breaking point where bonding is becoming binding and vacation is starting to feel more like work. Even “pool” has become a four-letter word.

I know it's time to for the season to move along when my mid-summer night dreams are no longer about hopping into a stately black limo that whisks me away to an enchanted ball in the evening. Instead, I settle for a fantasy about a bright yellow school bus that carts my kids off to a full day of school in the morning.

However, I'm not rushing summer out the door so quickly. I know that all too soon those lazy whines; “We're bored - we have nothing to do” will quickly be replaced with the crazy cries; “We're floored - we've got way too much to do.”

As beach bags make way for backpacks, I try to pursuade my kids that school is like sorbet for the brain - a cool and refreshing way to prepare them for life's next course. But as we casually kick back at Goodberry's during one of their last homework-free nights of summer, even I have to admit that my lump of Gump theory; “school is like a scoop of ice cream”, is easier to dish out then it is to swallow. It sure is nice to pop over and sample the flavor of the day without having to worry about school projects, sport practices or any other scheduled spontaneity.

Alas, like most good things, summer must come to an end. I sense that change is really in the air when the arrival of the new Target “Back-to-School” circular is more thrilling than the delivery of a letter claiming that we may have already won a free weekend at some new Myrtle Beach timeshare. There's just something about “4 glue sticks for $1” that triggers a Pavlovian school-bell from within and the internal ringing instantly makes us hungry for a slue of shiny new school supplies. It resonates inside our heads, shaking off our floppy sun hats so that we can don those smart “thinking caps” once again.

My boys, Jared and Jasper, start to feel pangs of first day jitters as they eagerly size up the new line of Superman notebooks and the latest in crayon technology. And although it's still well over 90 degrees outside, my daughter Sydney wistfully pours over the pictures of cool new sweaters, jeans and other equally hot fall fashions that she insists she needs to buy right away.

This year, the opening clap of the bell will have a special ring for us. Sydney will be entering those exciting eye-rolling, hair-flipping and drama-filled years of middle school as our boys cross the halfway mark of elementary school in third grade. Last spring I sat through at least a half-dozen “transition” meetings for parents, but the bottom line was always the same. Like the seasons, it's time to let my children move along. However I'm not rushing them out the door so quickly.

Maybe summer can stay just a little bit longer so the kids and I can take one more dip in the pool.


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