The Hazy Days of Late Summer

I'm not sure when I became aware of this small life pleasure, but I get weirdly excited when I flip a calendar page to a new month. It's refreshingly crisp and clean without any of the hash marks I scrawl diagonally across each block to stamp a day's completion.

Soon we'll turn the calendar to September. This is one of the most satisfying flips. Don't get me wrong: I like summer, but when we reach the sultry end of August and my kids are poised on the brink of a new school year and I'm poised of the brink of a new semester, I'm antsy to take the plunge.

We languish -- languish, I tell you! -- during the final days of summer. We visit WalMart too many times to buy color-coded folders and notebooks. We agree to an accordion file for the seventh grader, even though I'm relatively positive she's never going to use it. The kids molder in strange emotional mixtures of anxiousness and excitement, not quite sure how to feel at any given moment. They litter the kitchen table with printed copies of class schedules and locker combinations. The evening before school, somebody realizes that they've outgrown their shoes.

Everyone's a little prickly, a little agitated, a little short-tempered with the looming weight of transition. When they irritate one another, I discretely pull the offended party aside and remind them about grace and space. "You know how your sister is feeling. She's a bit on edge. I know she's frustrating you right now, but give her some grace and space." When they irritate me, I take a walk around the yard, wishing we could just rip off the band-aid and start this blasted school year already, then I remind myself about grace and space, too.

And finally -- when I don't think we can endure one more day of waiting for life upheaval -- it starts. School buses arrive. The kids disappear and return eight hours later, full of new knowledge about all the things that had been weighing on their shoulders: who their teachers are, how to get to the music room, what to do during the gap between drop-off and homeroom, who to sit with at lunch, how to contact their advisor to correct the mistake of their math level.

Once they get home, they're tired to the marrow (which is precisely how a first day tires both students and teachers alike), but they're wiser. They've survived a day and lived to tell about it.

In the meanwhile, I roll through the same process on campus. My own week is full of firsts: checking my phone to make sure I'm entering the correct classrooms, making roster adjustments as students drop and add, and learning dozens of new names. 

But when we turn the calendar page to September? Well, by that point, we'll have nearly two weeks of school under our belts. We have the rumblings of a routine. There's a new daily rhythm taking shape. The angst of late August days starts to fade.

Yes, we're ready for the calendar flip.

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