Back to School ads are being broadcast on American television, and I’ve just sent sympathy cards to all my teacher friends.
When school lets out in June, those three free months stretch out in front of us like an endless sea of days. We make all kinds of fabulous promises to ourselves – we vow to read all of Dostoyevsy’s novels, paint the next American Gothic, cook gourmet meals each night, learn conversational Japanese, and lose 15 pounds in the bargain. Then, in the blink of an eye, it’s August, and Target, Walmart and Office Depot are inviting us all in for spiral notebooks, crayons, calculators, and pens.
(At this point, I could easily turn this into a post about how much I love office supplies – and what writer doesn’t? I can spend hours wandering the aisles in the office supply deparment, testing the smoothness of all the pens, feeling the weight of paper in the notebooks…ok, ok, enough! )
What I really started to write about was time – how it flees from us all, teachers, parents, gardeners, accountants, every mortal soul who finds time slipping away faster and faster with each passing day of their life.
If you think back to your childhood, I bet summer really seemed endless, didn’t it? I grew up in one of those baby boomer neighborhoods, and nearly every house on our block had at least 5 kids (except for me, of course, the odd “only child” in the bunch!) From dawn to dusk we roamed the streets, riding bikes, playing various ball games, reading books, jumping into the pool…all the fun stuff that kids should do in the summer. It seemed like summer lasted a lifetime, and when September finally rolled around, I was usually ready to go back to the routine of school.
As a young parent, summer was also a respite for me. My son, bless his little heart, always hated school with a passion akin to the Bush family’s for Saddam Hussein. So I looked forward to summer in those days, as a time when he was (finally!) happy and able to relax. Unlike most parents of school age children, I was never very happy to see September roll around, because I knew he would again have demons to face, and I was always facing those demons with him.
By the time he was grown, I was again enmeshed in the school year calendar because of my job in the high school. I consider myself really fortunate in my part time position, because I don’t work every day. Nevertheless, when the school year starts, life gets a lot more hectic for me. It adds another two work days to my weekly schedule, as well as at least one work night per week. Not to mention trying to juggle the concerts and special events that always occur in the music deparment. Come September, my life definitely gets turned up at least two notches! So I look forward to June, July, and August as a time to slow down a little and catch up on “things.”
Well, here it is, August 9, 2006. I can remember writing this post as if it were yesterday – no, as if it were earlier this morning! The older I get, the faster time goes. Rabbi Israel ben Eiezer, the founder of Hasidic Judaism wrote this: