For the first time in I can’t even count how many years, the ‘Back to School’ sales did not instill a sense of panic in me.
With two older stepsons and a now-high school graduate daughter, I don’t have anybody heading back to school in the traditional sense. So no lists of ‘binder paper-college ruled, highlighters, notebook with at least five dividers, fine line pens, single subject notebooks, etc., etc.’ for me to worry about. It’s a relief, especially since there isn’t the rush for new clothes, shoes, backpack and the like. I did stop by a friend’s house recently so her kids could display the purchases made on a shopping trip and their excitement in deciding which outfit would be perfect for the first day took me back a few years. Plus I liked both their backpacks and matching lunch boxes; definitely chic.
My stepsons were way easier than my daughter when it came to shopping. A new pair of skate shoes, some shorts and a bunch of screen print T-shirts; the guys were good to go. They didn’t even really care if they had a lunch box with matching thermos or not, they could take a brown bag and enjoy the food inside just as much.
My daughter? Probably three or four separate shopping trips, each one inordinately long, to find just the right: socks, camis, shoes, sneakers, gym sneakers, light sweatshirt, heavier sweatshirt, pants, shorts, long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts…
Not to mention a lunch box that was cutting edge – whether it was Shrek or the Power Puff Girls. Sometimes, I just wanted to send her to the mall for a week. Have fun, dear, call me when you are done.
One of my fondest memories of my daughter’s grade school years, though, is when we would walk from our house to Magnolia Elementary School in Oakdale – it was across F Street, then up and over a few blocks. Not an incredibly far distance but in that 15- to 20-minute period a few days a week, we sang songs, talked about her day ahead, made up rhymes, held hands, and just enjoyed the time together. Even during the rainy weather, I wouldn’t trade that time we had for anything.
It’s hard to ignore that there is an air of excitement as the school year approaches, as kids eagerly check to see who their grade school teacher is; the new middle/junior high school students looking forward to that adventure and a world of possibilities in high school.
During my childhood in upstate New York, the school year ended in late June. July and August were our two full months of vacation, stretching into September, and we returned to classes right after Labor Day. It took a long time to get used to the Memorial Day end of school year here. Especially odd was sending the kids back in August, when I remember having the best part of summer vacation – camping out, taking hikes to the creek, endless baseball games when it stayed light until 9 p.m., catching fireflies after the ball game was over. The Labor Day family barbecue was the unofficial end of summer, and you could always count on the weather getting a bit cool as you headed back to school.
Here, we need to make sure the air conditioner is in full working order so the kids don’t bake in class. School sites in our communities have been busy getting summer improvement projects completed, the new teachers are lined up and (hopefully) settled in to their rooms ready to greet students. Alarm clocks are being set for an early hour all over the 209.
Every year is a chance for a new beginning, though. Learning new things, making new friends, forging a bond through joining on-campus clubs, groups, getting involved in activities; it’s all a part of the fun.
The year is an open book, time to fill the pages with your own personal success story.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.