Last summer, a jolt of shock and panic surged through my body when I read the email subject line on my phone “Class Assignment and Supplies List.” Oh, dear God, no! It was a hot and lazy day and I had just settled into my lounge chair to make an afternoon out of sipping cold drinks, flipping through magazines and resting under the sun. Why, as soon as you have accepted it is finally summer and your schedule has fallen into a slow mellow groove, is it suddenly time to set up another schedule that is rigid, fast-paced and unforgiving?
I am in no way an expert, but I can say with certainty—having one child entering his senior year of high school and one entering her last year of middle school—I have seen some things. I have long since given up buying the matching book bag and lunch box set, with my son’s initials monogrammed on the front, that he toted with him on his first day of first grade. I no longer spend an entire day helping my kids pick out the perfect first day of school outfit and lining up all the necessary school supplies on the kitchen table, checking each one off the list and fitting them neatly into brand new and freshly labeled containers. I will share with you something that has become clear to me over the years, which should really be a better-known fact to all parents of school age kids: If your child shows up for school the first day with the same outfit they wore on the last day, carrying a more than gently used book bag that is filled with nothing but half a leftover turkey sub, their teachers will not bat an eyelash. And guess what? They actually let them in the school building to do what they came there to do: learn!
Mine is a family prone to anxiety, so believe me, I am still plagued by double and triple checking my mental lists as I am drifting off to sleep in the days before the start of school. Did I turn in the physical forms? Is there any money in their lunch account or is it still at -$3.50 like it was in June? Do my kids have enough clean underwear and socks to get them through a tough week, when laundry is not in the top 10 items on my to-do list? Most of the time the answer is yes, yes and yes, but if it’s not, somehow we all still survive.
My advice, as a veteran mom is to soak up those last summer days. Revel! Welter! Wallow! Dare yourself to let the school punch list languish on the fridge door another day. Let your kids sleep in that extra hour in the morning and stay up that hour later for just a few more nights, before the alarm clock becomes the dreaded morning admonisher. Soon the smell of sunscreen and the sound of carefree backyard chatter will be replaced with the stench of wet soccer gear and the whining that Dashboard is lying about the test tomorrow and they really promise they absolutely finished all their homework during Team Time. Somehow it all comes together, and in the unlikely event it doesn’t, they still get welcomed back to school with open arms and smiling faces and eventually fall back into a manageable routine. And you all will get through it, one way or the other.