Arizona is certainly not the Midwest. During the years I was growing up, it was the brisk feel of the air and the leaves beginning to change colors that signaled it was time to go back to school.
Here in Arizona the only indication of the season’s change is the yellow bus coming around the corner picking up the children in our neighborhood.
Just the same, school is back, and life has taken on a new direction at our house. No more lazy summer days where the only time we leave the house is to go to the swimming pool.
The first Monday morning of the year is always exciting, and this year there was an added air of exhilaration.
For the very first time I had all four kids preparing to start a new school year on the same day. Jackson, the baby of the family, is finally starting his journey into the public school system. This is the last time I send one off to kindergarten and pick up a confident young scholar at the end of the year.
The first day of school at our house almost rivals the excitement of Christmas morning, at least among the younger kids.
The older girls, however, would never admit that they too look forward to getting back to school. The new year always brings new hopes and possibilities, along with the joy of new outfits, backpacks, school supplies and catching up with old friends.
This year was no exception as they walked out the door a few minutes early to face the new academic year head on.
It was bittersweet sending my littlest one into the classroom, where I know he will be well taken care of. But not by me, for whom he has represented a big part of every day for the past five years. There were a few tentative moments, but we were both able to hold back the tears.
Sadly, by Tuesday morning the excitement had waned and the sendoff was much less grand. In fact, our newly minted kindergartener was certain that he learned all he needed in one day and there would be absolutely no need to go back for Day Two.
It’s not that he doesn’t like school, he just doesn’t see the need to go on a daily basis. I can identify with that feeling; trying to bring structure back into the carefree summer life is not an easy adjustment.
I must admit, I too miss the summer days in which I don’t have to spend 45 minutes every weeknight making four far-from-gourmet lunches to please the palates of four kids who know what they want when they open that bag or unzip that lunchbox.
Not to mention the hours of my life I won’t get back that have been spent signing off on all the paperwork that each new year brings. I may have thought twice about having four kids if I’d known how tedious filling out all those emergency cards can be.
As we enter the third week of school, things have settled into a routine again and the schedules and commitments have once again become second nature.
Now the only thing we’re missing is the changing leaves and the brisk air of fall to feel like a new school year is truly under way.