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Back to School

“How was your day, girls?” I say to Katherine and Peyton as they pile into the car after their first day back to school. They start talking in unison, their words clipping each other. “One at a time,” I say. Peyton, 13, launches into math and humanities and who’s in which class. Katherine, 10, complains, “You’re always listening to her. You’re not asking me about my first day.” “Katherine, how was your first day?” “It was good. My teacher’s really fun; I like her. I got a blister from my new shoes. But I also got this new pencil pouch.” She holds up a mesh pouch filled with a ruler, glue stick, erasers, pens and sharpened pencils. “Oh, oh, oh, and I have my own locker this year!” I’ve been waiting for this moment. Like the crickets’ chirping that gets louder as summer comes to a close, my itch to get the kids back to school and get back on schedule turns to hives. I know everyone says they can’t believe summer’s over. “I don’t want it to end,” friends say. I do. I’m ready for the new school year. I’m ready for crisp apples and sweater-weather. Sure, I could do without all the paperwork each child requires. (I’m the mother the nurse will call in mid-September complaining about missing health forms.) Don’t get me wrong, I love summer. I love getting to the beach, hopping on my bike and pedaling along the ocean. I love juicy tomatoes, white corn, ice cream cones after dinner. I love not worrying about carpool and soccer schedules, letting the girls sleep late. I love all that--up to a point. Not to go all kumbaya, but who would appreciate any season if it were endless? For me, the start of a new school year holds more promise than a new year. You take a breather and then you’re ready to move on, motivated by sharpened pencils and blank paper. And maybe some new shoes.