It must be the holiday.
I have noticed something very peculiar about today. There is a almost reverent silence enveloping the neighborhood. Every adult , and especially parents, seem to have a smile on their faces and a skip to their step. The traffic is far worse than it was last Monday and yet I don’t hear anyone complaining. It can’t be the weather, it’s a humid rainy day. There was hardly a line at the Starbucks this morning and I have yet to run into a single insolent teenager all day. The incompetent employees at the local grocery store that I have seen since June, are no longer there. Maybe it’s because it’s National Lemonade Day. That must be it. That would explain the sour faces on all the kids I saw hanging out on the corner this morning. Yes that’s definitely it……..unless………It just might have something to do with today being the first day of school. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that it is probably not the lemonade.
I used to love the first day of school and now even though I haven’t been to school in over a decade and a half, I am not counting Driving School and that Anger Management class, I still love the first day of school. The first day of school used to mean that I had on new school clothes and some kicking shoes. I usually had a brand new haircut and a feeling of superiority that came from the piles of clean notebook paper as of yet unchewed pencils. But I have to admit that now that I have kids, I love the first day of school even more. For those kids out there: #1 why aren’t you in school and #2 I must inform you something that your parents probably never told you.
Your parents don’t like you during the summer. Yes they love you year round and they provide for you in the month of July as well as they do in October but the truth of the matter is that you are very unlikeable creatures during the Summer months. When a parent has to leave for work at 6 am and sees you in your room snoring away, they don’t like you. When you tell them how you spent all day playing video games and texting your friends while they were busting their butts working for some a*hole boss so they could pay for the electricity that you are sucking up at an alarming rate, they don’t like you. When you tell them how bored you are, they don’t like you. When you are still wearing your pajamas at 4 in the afternoon, they don’t like you. Most of all, when the living room is a wasteland of opened video game disk containers, crumpled chip bags and half-drunken soda cans, they really don’t like you. And when they come home and they first words out of your mouth are, “I am glad you are home because I am hungry”, they are dangerously close to telling you how much they don’t like you. But they suddenly it happens, they look at the calendar and realize it is time for school to start and the parents know that all is going to be o.k.
I know that some kids don’t believe that their parents like them more when they are at school than during the summer. However, consider the following:
- When do you get new shoes, when school lets out or when it starts?
- When during the Summer did your parents insist on taking you to buy you new clothes? Just a guess, it wasn’t July 4th.
- Do your parents buy you new backpacks, lunchboxes and calculators in June or in August?
- If your birthday is at the end of summer, why do your parents have a party? Because they have gone the entire Summer without killing you.
Kids need to understand the complex sociological reasoning behind why they send you to school. Yes, they do want you to learn and be active participators in our democracy. They also want you to use your bedroom at some point in their lives and if your illiterate ass is still living there at age 42, that makes this highly unlikely. But, it’s much more than that. You see, having kids is not that different than having a dog. You are both are helpless when little, make a mess everywhere you go, and are far too noisy for our liking. The principle difference is that if the raising of a dog goes awry, almost anyone will step in to take them off your hands and take care of them whereas with a child it is basically a “no refund or exchanges” situation. So knowing this you have to understand that school is basically a sort of Westminster Dog Show for human beings. We take the kids. Give them the best bloodline we can. Get them clean and presentable. Teach them a trick or two and just hope to God that they don’t humiliate themselves or us. Saying your kid is an honor student and well-liked by his peers is pretty much saying he won “Best in Show”.
So we send the kids off to be with other people. We have taught them to close their mouths when they eat, to say “please” and “thank you” and just hope that they have listened at least once out of the thousand of times that we have told them that we love them and hope they make good decisions. The hardest part of kids growing older is that we are forced to abdicate so much of the control we had on the first day of school when they were younger. We used to be able to walk them to their class on that first day, scope out which of the paste eating nose pickers we wanted our child to avoid and care fully introduce our kid to their teacher as we silently gave the teacher a look that says,”This little human being is the most important thing in my world. Because of him, I went through 28 hours of labor, have cleaned up vomit and other assorted messes at 2 in the morning and have not had a good night’s sleep since George W. Bush’s first term. If you make him cry, I will kill you.” But as the kids get older, you are basically a money dispensing taxi driver. You role is to deliver the child to school and avoid being seen by any one under the age of 18.
So, the first day comes and it always brings such excitement. That afternoon the kids are a bubbling fountain of how great the teachers are and how weird all the other kids are. They tell you how this year is going to be the greatest ever and how they can’t wait to go back tomorrow. Quietly you chuckle to yourself how this story will change once actual schoolwork begins but for now you let them enjoy your day. Their first day is happy and so is yours but then……somewhere in the back of your mind you feel it. That ominous sense that this won’t last forever. The time will come when there will be no more first days of school for you. A time when they will drive themselves to school or the morning when that breakfast on the first day will be in a dorm in some faraway city. Today was my twelfth first day of school as a parent and I know that I don’t have too many more left. But, I will keep enjoying them while they last. And even when there are no more first days of school with my kids……..
I am going to buy them new pencils anyway.