August is the month when people say things like, “Summer’s almost over,” a lot. I’ve actually said it before, myself, but it is kind of silly when you think about it. Do I really want to spend the last month of summer talking about how it won’t be summer much longer? There is actually a good reason why an odd sense of impending doom sets in this time very year: It’s back-to-school time. You would have to avoid stepping foot in any and all retail outlets in order to truly escape the reminders. There are signs everywhere, so even if you do not have children, you know that the clock is ticking on summer.
The smells of crayons, new notebooks and sensible school shoes fill the air, wafting through every aisle of every store that sells anything remotely school-related. It’s like Christmas without the undercurrent of peace and good will.
I do see joy on the faces of parents over the start of the new school year, but usually not while they are shopping with their kids. Getting kids ready for school is expensive! According to the current Back to School Survey by the National Retail Federation, parents expect to spend an average of just over $630 on back-to-school supplies this year.
That same survey reveals back-to-school spending has increased more than 40 percent over the past ten years. Truth is, school supplies are getting much more sophisticated. I always look for Big Chief writing tablets, but never seem to find them. I was never crazy about trying to perfectly form each script letter between those lines. From what I hear, kids are not learning cursive handwriting anymore. I don’t know about you, but that gives me overwhelming empathy for the people who came up with hieroglyphics. You know they must have felt pretty old when the alphabet came along.
Kids carry cell phones and use computers. To think that I laughed at the little chalkboards those kids carried to school on Little House on the Prairie. Lunch bags actually keep food cool/warm nowadays; but I still miss my metal “Charlie’s Angels” lunchbox.
It’s funny how the things I miss most about my K-12 years are all tied to the moments that I allowed myself to simply enjoy. I remember trading sandwiches at lunch (sorry, Mom). I remember doing homework with friends after school, and getting very little accomplished – other than a lot of giggling.
Until I started writing this piece, I can honestly say that I’ve never reflected on the hours I spent being bummed out because summer was almost over. I remember going to homecoming and prom, and my hall locker door that always seemed to stick. I remember pressing my gigantic pencil too hard and tearing the pages on my Big Chief pad in Mrs. Charles’ class, and sneaking a thermos of Dr. Pepper into homeroom. All of those moments have one thing in common: they passed so quickly. So, enjoy every moment of your August. Summer is not ending … a new school year filled with memories is about to begin.