Tuesday my kindergartners started second grade. This came as quite a shock to me. As usual I was the blubbering parent on the playground, long after the last child made the first day of school march into the building. Jack is patient, he guides me away from the school as someone yells, "not again! Don't you work here?", as I sniffle and shuffle away.
The truth is that I love school. I love paper and pencils and backpacks and books. I love the smells and the people and even sometimes the learning. School has become, in our two years there, our community and I am happy to be back with the teachers and staff who are now my co-workers and who color the bulk of my weekday life. I am happy to be back in the library, back with the students, back in the meetings and back at the neighborhood Starbucks, running into my favorite parents. This morning's coffee conversation topics included circumcision, Orthodox Jews, lollipops and Christian Science; not the stuff of my regular summer repertoire.
It surprises me, the need for a calendar again is compelling, when one week ago I would have said I could live the rest of my life on a lazy summer schedule. I enjoy pulling out a sweater each morning and I'm considering stashing my favorite canvas bag en lieu of a big leather tote.
This year the bandage was ripped off; the last few weeks of summer were spent roaming around the east coast, putting a halt to my regularly scheduled mantra of savoring each and every dwindling moment of summer. We came home, they went to school, it was that easy.
Children bring me back to the idea that summer is the very best time to do as much of nothing as possible. They leave seashells and sand in my bag and wet bathing suits on the floor. They are frequently sticky, coated with a thin layer of ice cream drips, and often dirty. They spend three months smelling of Coppertone and bug spray. A wedge of watermelon after dinner ranks amongst the world's greatest treasures and capturing a firefly before bed is the ultimate cap to a perfect lazy day.
The end of summer signals not just the end of bug bites and corn on the cob but also a marked notch in the forever enabled passage of time that leads, eventually, to growing up. As it turns out, growing up has not been all bad, especially when children remind me just how great it is to be a kid.
We'll miss you summer, see you next year.