I went into the local supercenter last week and was overwhelmed with the onslaught of school supplies. The aisles were lined with reams of paper, the end caps were stocked with Elmer’s glue, and a large sign hung from the ceiling that boasted of three-tab folders at unbelievable prices.
Back in the day, the first sight of such a display would drive fear and trepidation into the hearts of our four sons. They would deny the truth of it, close their eyes and make a beeline straight to the ice cream section for comfort.
With a smile on my face, I reflected back on summer vacations gone by. I have lovely memories of our four sons bolting from the family sedan as they raced to the local watering hole. I remembered warm days, cool nights and the sounds of them arguing over a dropped pass on the front lawn.
Once July 4 passed, it seemed summer was almost over and we knew it. The first day of school was like a big pink eraser in the room and no one talked about it.
I chuckled a bit to myself as I remembered the time I took my young charges into an office supply store in search of Post It notes and White Out for the home office. Since it was early in the summer, I hadn’t anticipated the Back to School specials until we were smack dab in front of them.
“Why would you do this to us?” our sons asked and the inquiry was quickly followed by a somber, “How can you be so cruel?”
It wasn’t long before our Lawrence put his hands over his younger brother’s face and to the tune of “Shield your eyes, little guy!” blindly led him out of the store, bumping into a large display of spiral notebooks as they passed.
Living in total denial, the boys and I would pretend that school days weren’t looming on our horizon until a week before the fateful event. I tried to placate them with the promise of new folders, offered to buy them brand new pens and bribed them with stylish new sneakers – all to no avail.
Although they sported brand new backpacks and as many spiral notebooks as $1.99 would allow, when that dreaded day arrived they were still despondent. Summer had ended and took along with it freedom, carefree moments and sleepovers.
But time has passed. This year, with our Charlie being the last to leave the nest, as well as the last Clinch boy to embark upon his first day at college, things are changing. That’s for sure.
Back in the day, folks would inquire of our sons, “Are you ready for school?” and they would answer politely and secretly loathe the fact they had to answer.
Not so anymore. “You bet!” Charlie responded enthusiastically just yesterday. Then he had the audacity to follow it up with a heartfelt, “I’m so excited and I really just can’t wait!”
Anticipating his first day of college, he’s been grabbing up his supplies like they are stuffers for his Christmas stocking.
Charlie is marking days off the calendar and although the first day is still weeks away, he already has a backpack stocked and ready.
It is I who dreads the end of summer vacation this year. I don’t want the “baby” to pack his clothes and some of our best linens and prepare to live at a campus home far away from his loving mother.
It helps when I see how excited he is to start this next chapter of his life and I know I have to let him go, but I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t like it one bit.
Just the other day as I took in the onslaught of the “Back to School” section at the supercenter, I was anything but happy about it. I wanted to ask them how they could do this to me and how they could be so cruel?
Then I searched for a friend to cover my eyes and blindly lead me out of the store.
Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.