Summer’s End

School starts tomorrow and I am so glad. Today I’ll buy the kids pencils, notebooks, all that crap. I’ll fold laundry. I’ll get organized.

I’m glad the darlings will get off the couch and get back into some semblance of a routine. They know they play their iTouch, Xbox, Café World too much. They can’t help it. My kids feel about their games the way their mom feels about cocktail parties. They’re delicious.

So yesterday I forced them up and out. We biked to church. We pedaled to Riverside Park. In my bike basket was a blanket, the newspaper, their summer reading books — Septembers in Shiraz and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

We lay under a willow tree; got comfortable.

Then we freaked out. Above us somewhere was a really loud rattling, rattlesnake-like noise. It sounded mechanical and crazy.

I explored the branches looking for a stereo speaker. Could this be some new art installation in the tree? That is honestly what I thought, We’re in someone’s art exhibit. In Manhattan, you cannot escape the street art — the sidewalks, the streets, the parks are teeming with art! I love it. But I wanted to turn the speaker down and read my Sunday New York Times in peace.

Cicada from Creative Commons

But it wasn’t art. It was one frog-sized cicada making all that racket. The kids said they couldn’t concentrate on their books. “That noise is weird. It’s too hot. I want to go home.” So we packed everything back in my bike basket and rode home.

The kids lay on my bed in the one air-conditioned room in this messy apartment, reading their books, eating cookies in my bed, making more mess. They put in the required time with their books (an hour). Then they returned to Farmville and Fallout 3. And later, we all went to a cocktail party/barbecue!

Summer’s winding down. But the cicadas are still making noise.

The Most Wonderful Day of the Year

The summer days dwindled. Like the entire Upper West Side cabal of parents, I spent Labor Day at Harry’s Shoes and Staples.

At Staples, I muttered, “Sorry” to at least half a dozen people after I rammed their heels with one of my two carts.

Let traditionalists bemoan the loss of family rituals, I hold fast to a favorite — back to school shopping. Nowadays, internet-savvy, organized parents may order their school supplies on-line. Not me. I prefer the real-life bashing of plastic shopping carts and grabs for that last protractor.

I feel my year starts anew at the beginning of every fresh school year. I make resolutions — blog everyday; get the kids involved in chores; allow no TV until homework’s done; lay out clothes the night before.

The back to school outfit matters. Hayden wore a mint green collared shirt and blue checked shorts. He fussed with his hair, nearly breaking into tears over an unruly collick. Charlotte had a puffy white polka-dotted top and cut-offs. Catherine a teal, hand-me-down blouse from Deirdre and long jean shorts.

These are my fifth graders and my seventh grader. Hayden is as tall as me; the girls a perfect height for slinging an arm over their shoulders and pulling them in tight.

I wanted to hold each child’s hand as I walked Hayden to the 7:38 am bus and the girls to school. But they saw their friends and jibber jabbered the whole way.

Quickly they let me grab their cheeks and smooch them goodbye. They only rolled their eyes for a moment. Then they turned and went towards school. Their light backpacks bouced on their backs, full of empty three-ring binders and unwritten-on spiral notebooks.

I hung back and marvelled.