Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back To School

Right below the streamers and sky rockets announcing Fourth of July Savings at your local convenience store are the banners promoting even more gargantuan Back To School Savings. Like the line between Halloween and Christmas, what's the difference between a couple of months when it comes t marketing? If you're under the age of twenty-one: everything. My son began to wriggle and twist whenever the faintest suggestion of time passing came during his summer vacation. More than just about any year I can remember since he was tiny, the past two and a half months have held a minimum of organized activity.
That all ended on Wednesday morning. His mother dragged him from his bed into the harsh light of the morning, of which he had seen so little during this break from school. To his credit, he was up and ready to go for the five days in a row that he attended Debate Camp. And the morning that we got in our car and made one last, desperate attempt at vacating to Southern California, he was showered and ready to camp out in the back seat for the long haul down I-5. But mostly he worked on his sleep skills.
I understand that we're growing a teenager here, and it takes a lot more rest and food to generate a world class specimen. That doesn't keep me from pining ever so slightly for the old days. The days when he was up before either of his parents, wanting help to turn on the television so that he could watch cartoons "without disturbing" us. Now he wears his ability to sleep until nearly noon as a badge of honor. Each waking hour before the middle of the day is met with a tiny sliver of contempt. Not that he's gone surly on us. He's still one of the most pleasant adolescents I know, but he's definitely changing.
On the Wednesday morning that my wife took my son to orient and register at his new school, high school, I was at home getting ready for the beginning of my own new term. I was making lesson plans and agendas. I was also putting away the remnants of our last trip, carrying the luggage down to the basement until we needed it again. By chance, I happened upon a piece of red construction paper near the shelves in our basement. After I put the suitcases back in their slot, I bent down to try and discern from whence this piece of paper had come. Turning it over, I saw a carefully pasted white beard, a pair of beady eyes, and a cotton ball at the top of this portrait of Santa Claus. Scrawled at the top of the page was my son's name, in his best first-grade penmanship. Just below that was another piece of construction paper. This one was white, with alternating stripes of red and green pasted horizontally across it, forming a two-tone pyramid. Another glance told me that I was looking at a Christmas tree. I had stumbled on a tiny portion of my son's saved work. I felt a wave of nostalgia as I stood and measured the years between those art projects and the ordeal of high school registration. It made me sad and proud all in a rush.
When I came back upstairs, I made a mental note of where those particular Christmas decorations were. It's not so very far away.

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