As quickly as summer break blew in, it’s just as quickly ending. Yes, we are in the midst of first day of school eve. With the oldest two hours south at her new school(she’s been there since August 3rd), my two youngest have picked out their clothes, brushed their teeth, and are making the fateful trip to their bedrooms for a night of angst-y sleep and restless, well, rest. My son, 11, is starting his last year of elementary school going into the 6th grade, while my 13 year old daughter is heading into the 8th grade. Her last year of middle school and is now at the top of the food chain in the realm of that awkward time known as the beginning teen years. As an 8th grader she’s done the time, taken the blows, and has endured the first year of middle school as an underclassmen. She is now up on the hill looking down on the little people. Enjoy it, my child. You won’t feel that exhilaration of power again for another 4 years.
Me, well I always approach the beginning of the school year with a little melancholy and nostalgia. I’m sad that another summer break has gone by. I hope we made the most of it. I hope the kids had a nice break. And I hope I didn’t emotionally or psychologically scar them in any way. I’m pretty sure I didn’t, but you never know. There were no big trips except to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We saw a few movies, ate some tacos, and played lots of records and video games, so I guess that’s something.
This summer felt especially poignant as it was the summer before our oldest moved out and into a dorm, 2 years earlier than planned. It’s an honor and an amazing opportunity for her, and so far she seems pretty happy just two weeks in, and with one whole week of classes under her belt. But for me it feels like an end of an era. You get to those points where there’s no going back. You hear people say “Enjoy your kids when they’re young because you can never get those times back”. Well, I’m starting to understand that now. The laid back days seem to be gone. Now when she’s home she’s going to have to fit a whole lot of visiting in a relatively small amount of time. Parents, siblings, the family dog, grandparents, friends, and old work mates will all be vying for time when she comes home for the occasional weekend visit.
The care free times are gone.
I think the whole surgery thing back in the spring has left not only a physical mark on me, but an emotional one. I’m not crying watching commercials or anything like that, but I feel more sensitive to life. I’m more aware of just how fleeting it all is, and I want to make sure we make the most of it. That’s not to say I don’t get annoyed and occasionally want to throw a temper tantrum, but I feel there’s a virtue in internalizing that urge to lose my shit and try and absorb the brunt of it. I don’t want the last thing someone remembers of me to be me losing my shit over something stupid, like a bad driver pissing me off or pouting because I don’t want to do something that makes me uncomfortable. In the same respect, I’m going to indulge in things that make me happy. Records, making music, great coffee, comic books, and craft beer. Long afternoon walks/jogs in the summer sun listening to my favorite podcasts. Playing video games with my son. Sharing an overpriced coffee drink with my daughter, or indulging in tacos with my wife at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
These things may be little or seem insignificant, but man they’re what makes my world go around. They make being generally bummed about work everyday worth every minute. Summer break always seems to be this two month cosmos of tiny, significant events that build up to a lifetime of great memories. When the kids were much younger I always looked forward to the beginning of the school year. With little kids routine is the key to sanity. With routine the chaos of childhood seems so much more manageable. But with my children being older, well a lot of the pressure is off my shoulders. Summer isn’t the chaotic free-for-all that it was 7, 8 years ago. Now they can sleep in, make their own food, clean up after themselves, and have the house picked up before I’m home from work. That ends tomorrow.
And with it another summer of tiny, significant events.