It starts the minute the bell rings. School is out, summer unfolds its inviting arms, and already the collective shelves of the retail world begin planning its demise. Soon it will be time for “back to school” sales, and we all know it. You may have noticed that shopping likes to look ahead. Which is why you can buy winter coats in September and swimsuits in January, despite the fact that most people tend to live in real time, and only have need for said coat when it is cold, or swimsuit when it is sunny. It is this reason that back to school supplies start showing up in stores, stacked upon the waiting wings of endcaps, while the 4th of July works hard to make every penny it can. It is why even now, just a row over from a rainbow of markers and a forest of paper, sits a patch of smiling pumpkins, knowing and ready. Behind them, a tinseled tree, the glimmering promise of Christmas future growing brighter in the distance. Perhaps it is too much to ask for life to include a spoiler alert or two, after all, it is no secret what tomorrow holds, and there are worse things than planning ahead. However, life is short and fast, and everything you have always heard about it. Would it be so wrong if we enjoyed the moments we were in rather than chasing the next big thing? Can’t we enjoy the last lazy days of summer without the constant ticking of the clock and all the world chanting that “school is coming” like some twisted, academic Game of Thrones home version? Buy the Jon Snow backpack. We get it. Summer is a time of relaxation, play, and imagination. That’s not to say that school isn’t packed full of benefits too: It offers education, athletics, clubs, friends, and all the Sloppy Joes you can eat. But it’s so early. Getting up at 6 a.m. isn’t good for anyone (actual wake-up times may vary). In addition, the rigid school calendar laughs at the personal freedom of summertime as if it were nothing but fling and folly. There is no strolling through school days, and there is NO running in the halls. The new school year is a milestone, another bit of information that defines our children. Grade level is as important as age when it comes to the labels we wear, and, as such, we fill our Facebook feeds with every picture of it. And there’s the rub: If summer is all things wonderful about childhood, then the ending of it, and the subsequent starting of a higher grade, is yet another bittersweet moment full of excitement, pride, and melancholic memories. It is everything we love about parenting served up on a platter, and the minute we acknowledge it, then it, too, is gone. It is one more box checked on the Best List Ever, and one fewer moment of anticipation we get to savor. School is coming. Someone cue the reindeer.
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Are you looking forward to the school year? Dreading it? Or a little of both? We'd love to hear in the comments!