I’m sure this post would have been more impactful if it had been published at say, 8:00 this morning, but like many parents in Gwinnett and Fulton county, I was a bit busy outchea in these here streets, sans offspring. That’s right folks! School is back in session and all is right in the universe!
The resuming of school means different things to different people, depending on what stage they’ve achieved or path they have chosen in life. For everyone in, it means a return to a glut in traffic patterns. For the teacher, it means a chance to implement all the training that has been acquired over the summer. For the singleton who works from home, it means a chance to sit by the pool without all that daggum noise from the neighborhood kids. And then, there us: The parents. It’s hard to describe what the First Day of School feels like for us.
This is our Christmas.
This is our Hanukkah.
This is our Guy Fawkes Day.
This is the Day of Reckoning after having been tried by fire for the 3 months of summer.
We’ve managed to keep our kids healthy, occupied, fed and alive without completely losing our sanity and that is why we jubilate today. Nobody knows de trouble we dun seen…nobody knows our sorrows. How we’ve spent countless hours in the lonely, watchful nights asking ourselves again and again: “Dear Jesus, WHAT am I gonna do with these people tomorrow?”
You ask yourself this every day. For 3 months. Because the fear (a well-founded one, based on science) is that your kids will grow duller, dimmer and dumber over the summer if you do not keep them perpetually engaged in something beyond television. If you are not one of the parents who is lucky enough to afford summer camp – or qualify for subsidies that allow your kids to go to camp for free or a reduced rate – the burden of planning, executing and scrimping together the cash to do stuff is completely on YOU. And do you know what the worst part is? Your client (i.e. your child) is never satisfied with the result(s).
“Oh…so we went to the sprinkler park. What else are we doing today?”
“All we have to eat is chips, a sandwich, and a drink? Can I have your pretzels then?”
“What do we have planned for tomorrow? I think I’m going to be bored…”
Dude. How can you be bored in advance of tomorrow? It’s only today?!?! What the…!
No. No. It’s okay, Malaka. That’s all in the past. School is back in session today and all is right with the world. Things are back to normal.
Two years ago, my friend Tosinger wrote a post on Facebook when back her two boys made their way to their classrooms. Tosinger balances a career in the performing arts as well as being a full time mom. (She’s crazy.) She said: “Kids go back to school; mom goes back to creative.”
That simple explanation of the rhythm of the creative who also functions as a parent has stuck with me ever since. There is little time to dedicate yourself to your craft over the summer when you are a creative or social entrepreneur or any other profession that requires your undivided attention. You can’t give your craft your best, because you have to divide your attention and give the bulk of it to your kids. Your creative passion becomes anemic, withers and almost goes specter thin over the summer. Why? Because if you allow your kids to go anemic and wither over the summer, DFCS will come a-knocking at your door and a-carting you (or your kids) away. And that is why I woke up with a song in my heart and a spring in my step this morning. Like Tosinger and any other parents or guardian who has a personal passion outside of rearing children, I can finally devote some time to my much beloved craft.
Have you seen the Back to School meme of the orangutan? Here. I’ll show it to you.
Now, last year, I didn’t understand why anyone would create this. In 2014 and hitherto, I would mourn the ending of summer. The days leading up to back to school would mean the ending our little excursions to the zoo or the Verizon Amphitheater to watch show tunes on screen or all the little things that made summer wonderful. I didn’t understand all those “mean” parents who would look forward so eagerly to getting their kids out of the house. But this year…ahhh…this year was different. My children changed on me. They grew up. They didn’t want to do all the whimsical things that made summer fun. They wanted to do things that cost ridiculous amounts of money. They also didn’t want to do their required reading and math assignments before we could leave the house. This made them less pleasant people to hand out with. This made me pray in earnest for the ending of summer to come with haste.
(I even enrolled Stone is back in school. Can you imagine that he’d rather spin time in the classroom with his friends than spend 9 hours (alone) at home with me? Quelle surprise!)
I tell you, I danced this morning. I sang a song. I made up a melody and lyrics in my head about what had just transpired. I was a much sweeter person in traffic. No, no…you go, sir! Please. Cut across me in the lane. Nothing matters. The kids are back in school!
If you’re sitting at your desk today, wondering why your co-worker is a little friendlier this morning, or why the mom in the checkout lane is smiling silently to herself, or if your boss has suddenly experienced a burst of goodwill and is offering to take the office to lunch, know that these people have probably been touched by the magic of Back to School.
To our teachers: We salute you, we thank you, we pity you. Thank you for your sacrifice. You and the troops are what make America great. And now, if you will all excuse me, I’m going to watch Gotham for the first time without any background commentary or insipid questions since May.
Did your parents dance when they sent you off to school? You should call them and ask them – then come back here and tell all of us! Of course, they will lie…just like I’m gon’ lie to my babies today when I tell them how much I missed them and how GLAD I am they are home…dirtying up all my dishes and leaving their crap all over my floor.