Family life

My kids can’t wait to go back to school

It's always a surprise when kids are the ones who are eager to head back to school.

1Tracy

Anna and Avery are ready to trade fun in the sun for school structure. Photo: Tracy Chappell

Remember that commercial for Staples that had a dad leaping and dancing down the store’s aisles to the tune “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” while his kids scowled? It’s that time. The end of summer always feels so swift, doesn’t it? It creeps up just as we’re getting our new sandals perfectly broken in.

But strangely, in our house, I’m not the one jumping for joy about the kids going back to school this year. Usually I am—I’m the one ready to get back to our routine and (gasp) our sweaters and jeans, since I’m no fan of the heat. But I haven’t had enough of summer. Maybe it’s because we haven’t had great weather this year—certainly not enough heat to get sick of, not enough days frolicking outside in the sprinkler, not enough trips for ice cream. Maybe it’s because we’ve had a more lackadaisical approach to dinner and bath time and bedtime and it’s been nice to be able to say yes to sandwiches for dinner, one more book before bed, longer cuddles. Our mornings haven’t been so rushed, so there’s less yelling and hustling. It could be because my girls have gotten to the ages that they’re able to entertain themselves a little better, which means our time together is more relaxing. Plus, they’re hilarious, full of interesting things to say and great ideas, and I’ve enjoyed having more time to listen to them, creating skits and telling stories and pondering the answers to life’s mysteries.

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But you know what? My daughters are dying to go back to school. They’ve had a great summer, full of camps, swimming, day trips, sleepovers, beaches, adventures, busy time and downtime, but they’ve never stopped talking about school. A few weeks ago, Avery was actually crying because she missed her teachers so much and made me promise we can go visit them on the first day of school, even though they won’t be her teachers anymore. They both miss their friends and, despite our best laid plans, we haven’t reached out for all the playdates we’d intended. But I think, especially for Anna, what’s missed most is that structure of the school day—the predictability of how their days play out, what’s expected of them, and the clear division between weekdays and weekends (which is the part I feel most reluctant to let go of). We don’t do a lot in the way of back-to-school shopping, so they’re already looking in their closets for what they’ll wear on the first day, talking about who their teachers might be and which friends will be in their classes. Even Halloween costumes, geesh.

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I should be happy. I am happy that they both enjoy school so much that they’re ready to bid adieu to these beautiful summer months and barrel into another school year. There is something good and comforting about how life plays out the rest of the year. But it all goes by too fast. Once September hits, you blink and it’s Christmas, then we’re anxiously awaiting spring, and then another school year is over, my girls are a year older and wiser, and I wonder if we’ve made the most of this precious time in their young lives.

So this year, I’ll hope for an extension of sunny days and at least another month of bare feet and lazy weekends to enjoy together before we jump on the hamster wheel of life. And we’ll make time for a long, leisurely walk to get ice cream. There have been so many wonderful things to remember about this summer, but definitely not enough ice cream.

Follow along as Today’s Parent senior editor Tracy Chappell shares her refreshingly positive take on parenting her two young daughters. She’s been blogging her relatable experiences for our publication since 2005. Read more of her Tracy’s mama memoir posts and tweet her@T_Chappell.