Family: Thoughts and reflections on going back to school

In only a matter of a days school bells will be ringing again, a brisk and final reminder that summer is over.

Of course, even when I hear the school bells in the distance and watch the big yellow school bus pull up to a stop not very far from my house, I feel only a detached sort of curiosity about the whole thing.

“I’ve been there, done that,” I think to myself as I watch the kids spill out, talking, laughing and nudging each other before heading off down the street.

But, even though nowadays I live only on the peripheral edge of the back to school rush and, for me, September is simply the month where I quietly watch the kaleidoscope of summer slowly turn to capture the vivid colours of fall, I did find myself caught up in the whole back to school thing the other day.

I was standing at the kitchen sink doing the dishes when the phone rang, jarring me out my meditative state.

It was one of my daughters.

She had been back to school shopping and, apparently, there are worse things in the world to do with your kids on a hot day in August, but she couldn’t think of a single one.

“I hate malls,” she groaned. “I should have done it all on line.”

I hold the phone to my shoulder, drying a glass thoughtfully, trying to think of something comforting to say.

“It sounds horrible,” I sympathize.

Completely ignoring me, she carried on with her tale of woe about how no one would help her spend the money she didn’t want to spend in the first place. Indeed, all of the sale people must have taken off on coffee breaks when she showed up with her three sons in tow.

I hold back a giggle.

Then she told me that her boys did not do well in stores looking for exactly the right outfit for the first day of school. She said when they finally made it to the dressing room, the youngest discovered that he had to go to the bathroom. He had to go now. She couldn’t leave them all there in the dressing room to take him to the bathroom, so away they all went.

I suppress another chuckle.

Her three little guys, I’m sure, would have preferred to have been about anywhere else than in the mall back to school shopping with their mom.

I sigh, listen to her tell me how utterly ridiculous the price of shoes is, and then finally get back to my dishes. The conversation was decidedly lacking in any words of motherly advice, I think.

I reflect on having children as I plunge my hands back into the soapy water.

Kids are wonderful. They are moments of laughter bubbling up out of nowhere, they are heartache, wrenching deep inside to our very soul. They are mud on the floor, running shoes at the door, an empty milk carton in the fridge and frayed blue jeans.

They are love and laughter and phones that never quit ringing.

They are scraped knees and ABCs and the heartbreak of a first love.

They are hope and they are promise and a reason to keep on, keeping on.

And they are also very expensive.

As for me, I have watched my babies grow up, go out the door and come back and go out again, and finally fly away.

Now they have their own babies and, apparently, these babies are growing up and needing new shoes.

I smile.

This year, my very oldest grandchild will enter her last year of high school and my youngest grandson will begin kindergarten.

And so it goes.

I finish my dishes and think about back to school and then it occurs to me that education is a life long learning thing.

Now that I don’t have to worry about back to school supplies for my children, I think it’s time I thought about going back to school, myself.

There are so many courses out there for adults. Surely I could find something that would inspire me to lofty heights of something or other.

Of course, that would mean a new outfit.

The idea grows on me.

And I feel happy!

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