Archive for Thursday, August 21, 2003

Bits and Pieces

So long, summer

August 21, 2003

August is full of endings and goodbyes. As kids, we learn that August and the coming of Labor Day mean the end of summer fun, vacations, lazy days at the swimming pool, as well as earlier sunsets and bedtimes -- getting back into the "school routine."
On the brink of the great adventure of being on her own, college freshmen are excited but filled with the sadness of leaving family behind. I'm sure this is happening in many homes this week, as young people venture out timidly -- and some not so timidly -- making that first break into adulthood.
Parents are faced with the "empty nest" syndrome, even if there are other children at home, for we all know "you can't go home again" if not literally, then figuratively. Once you leave, home never feels quite the same again -- kind of like trying to fit into clothes you've outgrown. It doesn't work.
I took my grandsons to the pool last week for one of the "last days of summer." I was reminded of the many times we gathered as a family at the pool on the last weekends of August. When the kids were small, the pool was our main source of recreation in the summer. Not having air conditioning was our incentive. It was amazing how much could be done before noon so we could get to the pool by 1 p.m. Chores included picking beans and tomatoes and digging potatoes from the garden, which seemed as big as the "north 40," could be accomplished in no time.
Watching the young families at the pool last week brought back memories of those days. It was fun to watch the young mothers and eavesdrop on their conversations. My girls worked at the Eudora pool through their high school years. During that time, I spent almost an entire summer there as well, reading and recovering from surgery. It was a special time for us. Saying goodbye to those summers was difficult when they moved on to college and I found myself alone at the pool on those last weekends of August.
August also brings memories full of nostalgia for the places and people we once knew in the nomadic life of a teacher/coach family. In August, as we moved on to yet another school, we said goodbye to other teacher's families we had come to love through years spent sharing friendship and comfort in new towns, as well as food in the lean years.
Endings mean new beginnings, and goodbyes are tempered with the excitement that "back to school" generates. When I was growing up, excitement surrounded the first day of school: the smell of new paint and varnish in classrooms, and most fun of all, school supplies. There was nothing like new books, new pencils, a Big Chief tablet and a red rubber eraser in a small box, and even the small pot of paste that all of us tasted at least once during the year. All of these things were exciting. Now there are endless new items for school supplies from "Scooby Doo" and "Hulk" backpacks to special pencils for mechanical drawing.
There is always a need for volunteers to help out in the school district. This is an opportunity to give back a few hours to your community in addition to having the pleasure of being around all those young people with the hope that some of the energy they exude might rub off.
Welcome back to the teachers also. Has it really been almost three months since school was out?

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