Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | August 28, 2002

End-of-summer blues

Ah, the end of summer.

Perhaps, meteorologically speaking, we have not arrived at the end of my favorite season, but educationally speaking, we certainly have.

As I write this column, my children are wistfully enjoying their last day of summer vacation, and as it goes to press, they will be nearing the end of day one in grades two and six.

It’s a particularly bittersweet start of the school year for me. It’s the last year my son will be in elementary school – next year marks the big step to middle school for Andrew – and the last year my kids will be in the same school together. Because they are four years apart, Andrew and Katie will not overlap any years in middle school or high school. I don’t know quite why this is such a big deal to me, but for some reason it is.

Unless Andrew attends graduate school at the same university Katie chooses for her undergraduate years, this is the final year they will be heading off to the same school together each morning, and heading home together each afternoon. It makes me misty just to think of it.

Andrew says he wants to be a chef when he grows up, so assuming he doesn’t change his mind, my backup graduate school idea is something of a long shot. In fifth grade he had to write an autobiography of himself at age 65. Andrew wrote that he attended the Culinary Institute of America and opened a wildly successful chain of seafood restaurants called the Hungry Roger.

Because this is the last year of elementary school for Andrew, it’s also the last year of wondering who his teacher and classmates will be, the last year of the annual ritual of heading over to school to check the lists of teacher assignments when they are posted.

This year, for the first time, Andrew and Katie have not wanted to visit school a day or two in advance of the start of the school year to meet their teachers and scope out their classrooms. I half-expected that of Andrew, the growing-up-so-fast-11-year-old, but was surprised by 7-year-old Katie’s shrug when I proposed the idea.

Maybe it just brings the reality of the end of summer too soon. I like to also think it means they’re comfortable and happy at their school – Barrett Elementary, just three doors down from our home – and they trust that everything will be just fine.

We’ve spent a good portion of the last few weeks with other back-to-school rituals: checking school supplies, sprucing up the backpacks and lunch boxes, and visiting the eye doctor, dentist and pediatrician. Andrew’s room has also undergone a transformation with the addition of two new bookcases to hold his ever-burgeoning collection of books and Legos, and a new desk with room to his homework (the old one is now covered by his computer).

So, even if it has arrived too soon, we’re ready for the new school year. Now if I could just accept that my kids are growing up – and that I’m getting older – maybe I could stop being misty-eyed and enjoy this last day of summer break with them.

It’s time to shrug off these end-of-summer blues and find out how the kids want to spend their final vacation day; maybe a late-afternoon dip in the pool or perhaps a trip to Bonfante Gardens. It’ll be their call.


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