KALIS: Back-to-school blues not just for kids

Yes, I’m tired of my kids whining that they’re bored. I’m sick of sibling squabbles and wet bathing suits on the floor — or worse — in the hamper.
Aug 20, 2013

But am I counting down the days for school to start and set me free? Some might call me crazy, but no, I’m not. 

At this time of year, I always find myself trying to grasp onto what little summer is left, fitting in everything I can, while at the same time trying to outrun the cloud of depression closing in.

That’s right — believe it or not, I actually start feeling down at just the thought of school starting. I avoid the aisles of school supplies that appear so early that they replace the displays of Fourth of July fireworks. I search for the remote in a panic not wanting to hear the back-to-school commercials taunting me with the threat of ending my time with my kids.

Instead of anxiously awaiting the first school bell, I am desperately trying to fend it off. I refuse to count how many days are left — I don’t want to know. Because I know there aren’t enough.

It doesn’t help that this August’s weather has felt more like October’s!

Now, don’t get me wrong — it’s not that I enjoy constantly cleaning up trails of sand, wet grass, melted ice cream, dirty clothes, wrappers and whatever else my kids seem to obliviously leave in their wake. Nor do I like refereeing such epic battles as who gets the front seat or the last popsicle.

But, truth be told, I just plain love my kids being home. 

Sure there’s something to be said about getting back into a routine. I do get so much more done. And instead of episode after episode of cupcake wars or the continuous loop of "Sports Center" news (I don’t know if you’ve heard, but A-Rod is being suspended), I can get back to my beloved HGTV.

I will no longer have to cart the kids all over creation or deal with the revolving door of friends sleeping over our house, but there will also no longer be late nights and even later mornings. No more carefree days at the beach or pool. Camping trips will be replaced by tournaments, and casual dinners on the deck replaced with tag-team slow-cooker specials.  Instead of bathing suits and towels, there will be sweaty shin pads and smelly hockey gear. 

And while my house will be much cleaner, it will also be much quieter. This is perhaps why I’ve gotten into the habit of talking to myself. I tend to blurt out my every thought, giving the dog a play-by-play of what I’m doing and discussing dinner options with the cat (Another good reason to call me crazy).

But I digress. 

The point is, I don’t want school to start. I don’t want to have to share my kids with teachers and coaches. I don’t want to ask if they did their homework. I don’t want to say goodbye in the morning.   

What I want is to watch them catch waves and roast marshmallows. I want to see their smiles when we go tubing. I want to play Frisbee with them on the beach. I want summer to never end.

Of course, if this happened, all I would accomplish is having raised two unintelligible children who will likely go no further in life than Patrick on "Sponge Bob."

I realize that at some point I have to snap out of this state of denial and actually start preparing for school. I must stop averting my attention away from the backpacks that are exactly where my kids dropped them back in June, and start getting the things needed to fill them. 

Since I am clearly not in any hurry to do so, I am well aware that by the time I go shopping for school supplies, we might just miss out on the one last glue stick. But what we won’t miss out on is one last swim in the lake, one more day at the beach, one last boat ride, one last campfire — and one last, precious full day together.

And then I will think about what my son once said. One year, as I was reluctantly giving in to the reality and feeling particularly unhappy about it, he said, “What do you think about us, Mom? We’re the ones who have to go to school — you just have to miss us.”

Some might call me crazy, but miss them, I sure will — whining, squabbling, dripping wet and all.

— By Kelly Kalis, Tribune community columnist



How true Kelly, parents of all ages come to realize that yes they do miss having a child so dependent on them for everything, and yes the wet swim suits and the arguing over a slice of toast or who ate the last of the cereal are inevitable. There was a country song called “you’re gonna miss this”…how true it is. We seem to be wired in a way that we long for something other than what we have until we finally have what we thought we needed to be happy only to realize too late the values we failed to see then, but so clearly now…I suppose it’s the “forest for the trees” kind of blindness at play and we all have it whether re realize it or not.
Those days for us are gone and remain only in memory and wisdom that only comes through living life but we try to encourage those feeling overwhelmed with squabbles, diapers, unpleasant odors or too much noise that these are going to be among your fondest memories someday…for us someday is today, never fail to smell the roses when the opportunity arises…even if the proverbial roses smell like the lake.

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