The Stewart family
By Suzanne Mazer Stewart
It's almost here! That blessed event eagerly anticipated for months, that
joyous day full of so much promise, that moment of bliss all parents long for
-- THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!
I can't think of one parent of more than one walking-talking child who isn't
long past ready for school to begin again. I know there are the hassles of
school shopping, and the hassles of getting them used to going to bed and
getting up at the right times. But each time I have to circle the mall
parking lot looking for a space less than a 1/4 mile from the entrance, I say
to myself, "It's almost here, it's almost here........" Every whine and
grumpy face at bedtime and morning wake up is greeted with a silent, "not too
much longer now..."
I love our kids, really, I do. I like to think that our love is the only
thing that has kept them alive this long. Without it, I'd probably take my
mother's suggestion to lock them all in the basement and keep the survivor.
However, I truly think the school board's Summer vacation is about three
weeks too long. The entire month of August is one big prize fight around
here. Why, yesterday, even the baby had had enough! He waited until his
brother was lying on the floor, and then plopped himself right in the middle
of his back and started pummeling the back of Bubby's head. You know it's bad
when a 16 month-old feels the need for physical violence!
I did a column last Winter on the hazards of snow days. I had completely
forgotten, by then, the headaches of spending 3 months with 4 children. Now,
June and most of July aren't too difficult to deal with. June is filled with
the wonders of not having to get up early, not having evenings filled with
homework, and just the beautiful joys of Summer vacation. July starts off
with Independence Day celebrations and ends with the district fair, giving
them both new topics of conversation and something to look forward to.
August, however, is a completely different matter entirely.
Did you know that yesterday it was too hot to swim? And that the lightning
bugs of August aren't as fun too catch as June and July's? Oh, and don't let
me forget that ice cream treats get boring about this time of year, as well.
Video games, bicycles, basketballs, and even the "cold" seat on the sofa (the
one directly in the path of the air conditioner duct) have all become bones
of contention, worthy of at least a heated argument. "Did not-did, too!" and
"I'm tellin'!" are the unofficial mottos of the month. The tempers rise
faster than the thermometer on an August afternoon. They've had it with each
other, with their toys, even the dog suffers from Summer's too lengthy time
The first day of school brings a bittersweet release of tension. Sure, it's
still hot. Sure, it's the same old faces and things they come home to every
day. But there's something about that forced absence of 8 1/2 hours or so
that does wonders for their demeanors. The older two come home relieved from
the rigid routines imposed by their school bells. The younger two greet them
with joy and excitement, glad to have their favorite playthings home once
again. For me, school brings more running; football practice, cheerleading
practice, mid-week children's program at church. It also brings more routine;
certain things must be done on certain days, certain times must be set for
certain activities. I get more accomplished during the school year than
during the Summer months because the more demands on my time, the better I
manage the time I have.
Our school starts on August 26th this year. To the dismay of our two young
scholars, I've already marked the day with big, (I mean BIG, too) stars and
the words FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL so dark you can see them very clearly from
across the room. Now, I must simply wait. And wait. It's almost
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