This is the time we’ve dreaded all summer. School is starting. Gone are the days without regulated beginnings and endings. Gone are whimsical mornings on the seashore and guilt-free ice cream runs. Gone is the feeling of exhaustion from doing nothing but baking under the summer sun. I don’t want it to end. And yet . . . .

School exhilaration sets in. There are things I love about school starting. Maybe only 6, but they’re big:

1. The kids leave for school. Their summer entertainment committee goes into recess (that’s me). Yep, come August, we moms are plum out of ideas and frankly tired of our kids under foot. (Oh, come on, admit it. You like them back on a schedule, too.) 

2. School supplies. Well, I don’t really like the buying part because that’s always ridiculously expensive, but I like putting everything out on my kitchen table and looking at
it. All those supplies will never look new and fresh again, and they will never all come home again at the same time, even when they’re supposed to. However, at the end of the year I wi
ll find many spiral notebooks with only a few of the pages filled. These will retire to the cupboard where all partly-used notebooks live, but I will forget about them at this time next year and buy new ones again. School supply time is the only moment of the year where  I feel completely in charge of my surroundings. Ahead of the game. Or at least, up to speed. 

And then comes the fun task of labeling. This is really the best part–the part where an ordinary notebook becomes a notebook with purpose, all because I wrote on the cover. I label all the kids’ notebooks and binders, including any divider pages.  (Hey, my handwriting is better than theirs!)  I stand back and admire my work. Like I said, none of it will look this good again. Obviously, I’m a visual person. And a little OCD. Okay, really OCD, but only when it comes to school supplies.

3. Curriculum. I’m gaga for curriculum. This is the secret reason moms home-school their children. They just want to buy curriculum every year and see how it all fits together. For me, I want to see the take-home pages and look through all the books (warning: less exciting the older the kids get). English is a heaven for curriculum lovers–all those novels, short stories, poems, vocabulary, grammar, writing prompts, book reports. Aaahhhh! Delicious. Even when I’m not home-schooling, which is most of the time, I want to buy curriculum.

4. Skimming the teacher’s syllabus. This is a risk–sometimes the syllabi are really boring. But sometimes, they’re exciting, because the teacher gives me her expectations for my child. Oh, I love it when the syllabus reads, “I expect students to have integrity” or “There will be no plagiarism and no googling for definitions” or “Students will be expected to read the whole book.” My kids think this is dictatorial, but I don’t. Amen, sister! Make him work!

5. Spirit wear. Sheer fraud, but a contagious activity. It’s like selling whole life insurance to old people. We don’t need it, but you know we’re going to buy it for everyone–kid, dad, mom, even the car and dog. Shirts (dry-fit and cotton), sweatshirts, pajama pants, stadium seats, mugs, umbrellas, blankets, belts, key chains, car magnets, flags, noise makers, baby onesies, jackets, hats. The list is endless. (You know you have earrings in school colors somewhere.) And the saddest thing is, I do it every year because the kid always loses his sweatshirt before it actually gets cold enough to wear it. The t-shirts shrink into baby size, and those dog-gone retailers come up with cuter spirit wear than they did the year before. I can’t stop myself.  And then, of course, I get to label all of it. Double pleasure.

6. Parent volunteering. Don’t hate me. I like it. (You just have to pick the right jobs!) I like checking into the elementary school and putting on my “parent volunteer” label (silent applause for myself goes on inside my head). Then I go to my assigned area, and you know I’m not much help–I’m just looking for my kid to come into view. You do it, too. My son enters, unaware of my presence and happily being his natural little self. I see him with his friends. I see him in line (mine’s the one with his hands trailing along the wall, touching all the artwork), I see him whispering when he’s supposed to be quiet. I see him trade laughter with a classmate. He really doesn’t get any less cute when he grows up. I’m still looking for him, at his college, picking him out in a crowd.

My kid. Living life and experiencing community without me hovering over him. School is fulfilling, almost like a morning on the seashore.

Until reality strikes, usually by the end of the first week. And wouldn’t you know, it struck while I was writing this blog! I just realized that tonight I missed the mandatory parents’ informational fall sports meeting. So there you have it. Organizational pride over. The applause  is no longer going on inside my head.

Next blog: “6 Things I Hate About School Starting.”

What about you?

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