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BACK-TO-SCHOOL BLUES


I don’t know anyone who is super excited to be heading back to school this month. Well, actually, I do know one person: my first grade sister. But that doesn’t count because my theory is that she just doesn’t know what she’s in for. Besides for her, pretty much everyone I know is dreading it. 

I always wondered why we can’t just split the year: six months of school and six months of vacation. I mean, who decided that it had to be a 10:2 divide? 

If I ever write anything significant, it’ll focus on summer. Just thinking about it makes me compose poetry. The surge of cold you feel when you jump in the pool on a scorching day, the heat of the sun that beats down on you while you recline on the grass, the endless days of nothingness that stretch like a blank canvas….Nothing you experience during the year can compare with the freedom that is summer. And then wham! It’s over, and you’re back in the classroom, struggling with tests and homework, and all the pressures of real life. So long, freedom! 

During these final days of vacation, I’m preparing for that first school week, but I’m also enjoying the last licks of summer…literally. At the moment I’m licking a triple-scoop – chocolate, mint, and peanut butter – in a sugar cone topped with the works. I’m also relaxing as much as possible, going to sleep early and getting up late. I’m savoring those last few grains of sand as they slip down the timer. 

Someone once told me that the best way to prepare yourself for something you’re dreading is to envision yourself doing it. So in between the relaxation and preparation I’ve been closing my eyes and picturing myself getting in the car driving to school, walking through those double doors, standing in the classroom, and trudging home with my books all while dressed to the nines in shiny new shoes; a sharp contrast to my current attire of a faded jersey skirt and tie-dyed t-shirt. 

It’s not really helping. 

You’d think that after all these years, I’d be used to the routine. School, vacation, school. But I’m not only not used to it, I actually find myself dreading it more than ever before. What am I doing wrong? The funny part is that one week into school I’ll be totally fine. I won’t even remember my vacation. 

My mother has been trying to remind me about all the advantages of the school months. For example, the benefits of routine, of continued learning, the satisfaction of accomplishment, and of rising to the challenges of responsibility. 

I don’t buy it.

Despite this, I can’t bury my head in the sand. The party is over, whether I like it or not. So on the count of three, I will raise myself from this chaise lounge and begin today’s preparation for the school year. I have a lot of shopping planned for today- fun stuff like planners,  pens, and highlighters; and then some serious stuff like proper shoes to replace the canvas ones on my feet. 

One. Two. Three. Aaaand I’m up. 

The stores are mobbed, as I expected, and it is with much determination that I make my way down the aisles and fill the plastic basket in my hand with essentials for the first day.  By the time I’m done with the first stop I’m ready for a nap, but I force myself to continue on to the shoe store.

It is about an hour later when I hear whispers behind me. 

“Is that Miss Brandt?” 

“Oh my gosh, it’s her!” 

I focus intently on the shiny round embellishment on the shoe I’m trying on. The whispers continue. Finally, when I can’t take it anymore, I turn around. 

“Shani, Fraidy, hello,” I try to sit straight, to look dignified. I try to assume the role they expect, that of the Teacher.  “How was your summer?” 

“Good,” they answer in unison. Shani adds, “But don’t worry, we can’t wait for school to start!” The girls laugh nervously. 

“Oh, don’t worry,” I say, with a wave of my hand. “You’ll be all settled before you know it. Routine is good for you, you know.” 

They smile awkwardly. I spare them further discomfort by turning my attention to the shoes at hand and make my way to the front of the store to pay. 

I can hear their giggles. I know what they are thinking, and I’m not surprised when I overhear one last comment as I leave the store. “I bet she waits all summer for school to start.” 

Little do they know. 

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