Pack Your Bags, August
It used to be the month where kids got sick of summer and begrudgingly admitted that, yes, they were ready to go back to school. Now it has become back-to-school-o-ween...one long string of back-to-school nights, pre-school orientations and clothing sales.
School starts midmonth; the pool doesn't open until 4 p.m.; aloe is hidden behind weekly planners and protractors.
My kids have "star of the week" at school, where they bring in their favorite things, such as television. Well, summer used to be the star of the year. In June, families looked forward to vacation and kids didn't let a day go by without getting drenched at least by the backyard hose. July brought an easy rhythm of pool time and cook-outs. In August, even as people got sick of summer, they were forced to embrace it lazily because it was too damned hot to do anything else.
Now, with air-conditioning, we've pretty much shown August the door. "You have been replaced by September," we've said. "Here is a box for your hammock and sun tea what-not. Security will escort you out."
August is thinking, "September is such an upstart, with it's sharpened pencils and coordinated skirt and sweaters and box of 48 crayons. La dee fricken da. I hope your crayons break!"
That gives August an idea. It vows to melt the crayons the next time they're left in the car, but quickly decides it's too lazy to follow through. Instead, it naps in the sun and gets a huge sunburn.
This is also the month where moms are still dispensing drops for swimmers ear and slathering on sunscreen at the zoo--trying at the last minute to fit in all those 100 degree magic moments, while attending school committee meetings at night for things that aren't going to happen until next year. All while continuing to work.
Add to that potty training and constant denial that your youngest child is starting school (more on that next week), and voila you've got a little-known condition called seasonal retardation.
August is no time to write that novel you've always thought about, for instance. Or to take an I.Q. test. Or even to keep track of time.
The other day I looked at the calendar and it was August 6. The next time I checked, it was August 16. I lost 10 days. In the meantime, I had taken my to do list from the sixth and made an arrow to the next day. Over and over and over. Do you know what happens when I shirk my responsibilities for 10 days in a row? Apparently nothing.
But all that has to change. School beckons. It's good for me because now I can get some work done. But I feel a little nostalgia, as far as the kids go, for longer summers. They've been shortened for a reason; kids have to be smarter nowadays because the world is a lot more complicated, what with Tivo and Facebook and everything.
I do feel sorry for August, though, a month that I think has a beautiful name and important purpose, or at least used to.
Typically August went out with a bang. It didn't gradually morph into the next season, like November becomes winter and May becomes summer. It's like February. It's the end of the season and it's also the most dramatic weather of the season.
Hot to the last, it asks you, Do you really want summer to last forever? Begrudgingly, you say no.
Until now. This month we've had cooler weather. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. But as a writer, I see some symbolism here. August has been bought out by Fall and now has the temperatures to prove it. My kids don't want to go back to school. Even parents universally answer the how was your summer question with: "Busy. And too short."
So goodbye, August. You were a lazy month and not much good for anything. And for that reason, we will really miss you.