GUEST COLUMN: The official end of summer
Thursday, 06 September 2012 by Mark Magnan
The official end of summer comes on Labor Day. But realistically Texas summers go on for a while, heck sometimes even into November. But there is another end of summer, the end of summer vacation.
This week there are millions of happy kids returning to school. Perhaps not millions, more like hundreds that would actually look forward to school, and these are the ones that enjoy algebra and set their goal as being valedictorian of their class.
When I was young and in school, summer vacation was a time of freedom. We spent as much time outside as possible. I can recall being threatened with no supper if I didn't come inside and eat because it was already dark out. There wasn't a lot to hold our attention indoors; everything exciting was outside. What a better time to have three months away from school. Of course it was hot, but that seemed so trivial compared to the bounty of activities that were available to us at a time when we had absolutely no responsibility such as homework.
Of course by the end of August, sitting in an air conditioned classroom wasn't the worst possible thing that could happen. And I did actually look forward to school and learning new things. Of course there were new friends or friends that I had not seen since the previous school year. Sometimes it was a new school that created the excitement of the beginning of the school year.
And then there were the new clothes. The few weeks prior to school were filled with various shopping trips, but the booty was off limits until that first day of school. Much planning went into the outfit for the first day, even for boys that wore jeans and boots. For the first week it was the fresh smell of new clothes everyday.
There was a certain amount of school gear that needed to accompany the student on the first day: a notebook and some writing instruments, just the basics. We actually had to attend class to get the complete list of supplies required for the year. Then there was another shopping trip in those first couple of days to pick up each item on the list. It was a big year when we graduated from crayons to map colors, then the big step when we were trusted with a compass that had a sharp point. It was like the adults were admitting we were no longer children.
But then there were the irritation items that the teachers seemed to put on the list to sow discord with the parents. For my father it was the single box of tissues. We were a healthy family, so a box of tissues would last for years, usually turning yellow in the box before we used them. So he saw no sense is supplying my classmates with tissues to take care of their runny noses. I can still hear those ramblings after all these years.
I was usually able to slip in a special item or two. Something that not every kid would have in those first few days, a fancy pen or gadget. Those things made the new school year more enjoyable, well before the mundane set in, and we started counting the days until the next summer vacation.
So as the official summer draws to a close, we can celebrate with those kids and especially moms that look forward to the change in events and school starting. Maybe it is the millions of happy parents that herald the end of summer.