This week thousands of children went back to school, here in Indiana.
It’s a bittersweet time for me.
On the one hand, I can rejoice that we haven’t started back to school (because I am in no way mentally prepared for that yet, Gentle Reader. No way.) Our family still has summer plans involving canoes and tents and campfires. We still have raspberry picking and popsicle making to do. The State Fair is beckoning us with its fried food and smelly livestock and delicious sno-cones (which certain individuals will eat plain.) Believe me, we aren’t finished with summer by a long shot.
I can also take pleasure in the fact that our public library is no longer overrun by herds of boisterous kids participating in the summer reading program. The shelves there actually have books on them now, instead of gaping holes. My literature-dependent eleven year old sighed in relief this past library visit and muttered to herself, “Everything is getting back to normal. Finally.”
Also, my rear end takes great pleasure in the fact that the summer swimming season is over. My kids participated in several swim meets this year and I have officially dubbed this the “summer of my butt’s discontent.” I don’t know who made those bleachers and benches so freakishly hard, but I do know that my bottom will never be the same again.
It’s July 31st and the parks and public pools are all empty. We have had perfect park weather this summer and I had gotten used to seeing a million small people swarming over the swings and monkey bars whenever I drove past. It was a happy, life affirming sight but now it looks as if all the playground equipment is in deep mourning.
My Facebook feed is full of first day of school pictures and a million mothers lamenting how they aren’t ready to send their kids back to school. The most common phrase I’ve seen is “this summer has been too short!” Obviously. The school districts here have castrated it by an entire month.
And even though school hasn’t started up for us, even though summer is still in full swing here at Bunkersdown, the school buses that drive through our neighborhood sound like a death knell tolling in a church tower.
The message is clear: summer is on its way out. It’s deflating right before my eyes like a saggy water balloon with a hole in it. When I go grocery shopping the aisles of backpacks, notebooks, and glue bottles mock my purchase of a seedless watermelon. Put that away, they say to me in disgust, buy some shiny erasers instead. You know you love the smell of new erasers.
I’m strong, Gentle Reader, I keep the watermelon in my cart. Summer is not dead yet, I mentally chant. But as I make my way past the Back-to-School aisle I grab that pack of new erasers, damn it. I do love the way they smell. And then I grab some notebooks, because seventeen cents a piece is a screaming deal.
It’s not even August yet, but summer lays dying on my doorstep. Mortally wounded, perhaps, by my own betrayal.
Perhaps some raspberry yogurt popsicles and an outdoor session with some sidewalk chalk can revive it for a while.