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Archive for Sunday, August 19, 2012

Boomer Girl Diary: Missing the good old back-to-school days

August 19, 2012

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This week, I must have “liked” 347 “first day of school” pictures on my Facebook page.

There was darling Maddie, skipping off to kindergarten with her new hot-pink backpack. Status update: “A new chapter begins. Sob!”

Adorable Alexander posed sheepishly, at his mom’s insistence, with his first-grade teacher, Ms. Too Young To Be True. Status update: “He’s embarrassed now, but he’ll appreciate this later. Boo-hoo!”

My lovely little niece, Carly, paused on the porch for a close-up before leaving summer 2012 behind. Status update: “First day of 5th grade! Where does the time go? Sniff, sniff!

Even the older kids got into the act: There was Gabe, on the first day of junior high. Evie, moments before her freshman year. And high school senior Mollie, hugging her best friend. Status update: “First day of their last year together… : ( ”

One teacher even posted a “first day of school” picture... of herself! (I’m assuming it was a tongue-in-cheek reaction to her own photo-filled Facebook feed, but still.)

“Get a grip, people!” I thought, after a shot of two cute-as-can-be sisters with a crossing guard appeared in my News Feed.

First of all, when did the first day of every school year become a mandatory photo op? In my day, we took the obligatory kindergarten shot, plus maybe the last day of grade school. Of course, that was when film had to be developed and printed. Talk about labor intensive.

And hey, moms! What’s with the sobs, boo-hoos and sniffles? Your little angels will be home by 3:30, for crying out loud. Mix yourself a bloody mary, toast the end of weeknight sleepovers, and use your extra time to finish “Fifty Shades Freed.” The first day of school should feel like Christmas, New Year’s and Fat Tuesday rolled into one!

But, as much as I complained about the Facebook photo overload, a wave of nostalgia washed over me.

Truth is, I loved the old “back to school” days. I treasured those trips to Target and Office Depot to shop for No. 2 pencils, pink rubber erasers and spiral notebooks. I adored watching my kids spread their supplies out on the floor, gingerly opening their new boxes of crayons to inhale the scent. Sometimes, I’d steal a whiff, too.

“I miss this!” I said, as I gazed at the latest post from the grandmother of a precious preschooler.

“Ah, but those days are gone,” I told myself, considering a bloody mary, despite the 8:45 a.m. hour.

WAIT!! I almost forgot!! My daughter is going back to school in Kansas City next week. It’s a professional program. A musician’s back-up career plan, but a school nonetheless.

I speed dialed her at the new apartment.

“Hullo-o??” she said, drowsily.

“Hey, school girl!” I replied with cheerleader pep. “What do you say I take you to Office Depot on a school supply shopping spree. How does a Boys II Men Trapper Keeper sound, baby? Whooo-wee!!”

Dead silence.

“Mom?” she moaned, finally. “Are you drunk?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. It’s 8:45 in the morning! When we’re done, we’ll grab lunch and get you some new shoes and back-to-school underwear, too! And I’ll take your picture in the car before your very first commute!!”

Another 10 seconds of dead air.

“Mom. I’m 27,” she whispered. “Boundaries, remember? Like we agreed?”

“Boundaries, shmoundaries,” I shot back. “I need a Crayola fix. It doesn’t have to be Boys II Men. They might have “Lion King” Trapper Keepers, too!”

I could hear her sitting up in bed. Then a long, exasperated sigh.

“Mom, listen to me. I was 9 when “The Lion King” came out. That was a long time ago. I’ll get my own supplies. I don’t need crayons or underwear. And you’re not going to take my picture.”

“Fine,” I huffed. “But you have no idea what I’m going through, with all these kids’ back-to-school pictures and Paul Ryan wanting to kill Medicare. And what the heck is Shark Week? I feel so out of it, anymore!”

“MOM!” (She sounded surprisingly authoritative.) “Get off Facebook for a while. This, too, shall pass.”

We hung up. I knew she was right. Facebook had not only sucked another hour from my life, it made me needlessly envy the lives of others. I closed my computer and headed for the treadmill.

Then the phone rang.

“I WILL take you up on the shoe offer, though,” my daughter said.

“After crayons?” I asked.

“Deal,” she answered.

— Cathy Hamilton is the executive director of Downtown Lawrence, Inc., author of 16 books and blogger at boomergirl.com. Contact her at cathy@boomergirl.com.

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