Rebecca Page

Back to School

August is rapidly winding down and the stores are filling their shelves with back to school gear. The summer weather may continue, but back to school always marks a clear division in our year.

This time of year always has a whiff of New Year renewal about it. For centuries it was a time to celebrate the harvest and prepare for the coming winter months. Bedding the soil and fields for a valuable rest. Preserving seeds. Preserving the harvest. Prayer. Hope.

Of course, much of this still takes place, but mostly hidden from our urban existence. Our city tradition now is to head to the stores with our school-approved list of supplies and the eager desires of our children, to brave the bright and clever marketing temptations. We revel in the freshness of a new lunch box. We squint at the bright clean notebooks. The air dances with visions of no-waste lunches always finished, and stress-free homework assignments started on time. There is prayer. Hope.

Some things don’t change.

I find myself approaching this new school year with a lowered level of anticipation. This could be simply because I am not ready for the summer to end, but I am sure I feel like that every year. It could be that I am not listening to the noise of back to school shopping and preparations that fills the stores, the radio, the media in general. In the past, my ears were open to it and it would fuel my list-making, and create a sense of eventfulness and purpose.

This year? Meh. I have no list. This is not my event. My youngest daughter is very excited for school and seeing her friends again every day. I’ll take her and my school-approved list to one store and get all that we can in the narrow window of time before my tolerance for shopping slams shut. Rinse and repeat, until she has all that she needs. Back to school is her experience, her annual cycle. I’ve downgraded (upgraded?) my role to support person.

This could be the best back to school season yet.