“Are you ready…for school to start?”
It’s the question of the day within parenting circles about now, a cyclical sort of inquiry that emerges like clockwork a week or so before each school year begins. The question is part rhetorical, part connector, not unlike, “So, how about the weather?” It’s a fairly safe question for us parents to ask one another, an easy way for us to transition back into our more parallel paths after meandering in our own spheres for the last months.
It’s also a bit of a loaded question, depending on your setup.
I think for the majority of those of us who work most of our hours from home, the beginning of the school year can’t come too soon. Most summers, by the time I’m to the point of flipping over the July calendar page, I’m practically hyperventilating over the thought of school starting. But other mothers I know approach the oncoming school year with a sense of great dread. Back to the grind of the school-year schedule, they think. It’s harder for me to relate to this perspective, and yet, this year, I’ve found myself stumped over the “Are you ready” question, and I think it’s because for the first time, I really can relate well to both sides.
I keep thinking about a column Erma Bombeck once wrote that began something like, “Ah, summertime and the living is easy.” The column ends with Bombeck hiding from her kids out in the garage – or some obscure place where she’s hoping they can’t find her. Summertime living might be labeled easy, but after several months of hanging with the kids all day, she’s at her wit’s end. (Sound familiar to anyone?)
But I think most of us can relate to both angles. On the one hand, there’s something to be said about leaving behind the logistics of the school year. Unless we’ve chosen to keep our schedules as harried in the summertime as the rest of the year, summertime living is, on some levels, easier to stomach. What parent doesn’t relish the cessation of all the paperwork, whether in the form of permission slips and newsletters or take-home papers and homework? It’s nice to not have to be in our vehicles for the majority of afternoons and evenings. The demand for play dates seems to let up, and in general, life comes to us at a bit more manageable pace. But there’s something to be said for the routine of the school year, too. The predictability factor brings balance to both kids and parents. Yes, the demands seem a little heightened, but the payoff comes in the form of constancy’s hum.
So, I’m still undecided on whether I’m ready. I have a few very-last-minute school supplies to gather up, and I have yet to fully organize the school uniforms times four.
I suppose therein lies the answer.
No, I’m not really ready, not completely, but come what may, school starts on Wednesday. And on that morning, the alarm clocks are going to buzz a little earlier than usual, and we’ll all spring into action with a little more zeal than normal to face the new year and all its possibilities.
The new school year is on its way, ready or not.
Question is, are you?