I always hated school. Before I even went into first grade, I was depressed. Then, when I started, I cried for two weeks straight. I didn't just cry when my mom dropped me off. I silently wept from drop off to pick up. On my second day of school, my dad asked me if I liked it.
"It's the worst," I said. "And I hate homework."
I hadn't yet gotten any homework at that point. I was echoing what my siblings said. I felt that hating school and homework was one of those edgy, off-beat things my family did like shopping at Nordstrom or listening to hip-hop. If they thought the school was the worst, then so would I. It would make me a unique first grader.
I didn't realize at that point that pretty much everyone hates school. I might not have even realized this until I had kids of my own. Darla, the day before school started this year, became very sad right at bedtime.
"I don't want summer to be over," Darla cried. I knew exactly how she felt.
For years I was under the impression that my older siblings shaped my attitude. It never occurred to me that maybe most people don't enjoy having summers of swimming and ice cream cut short by the demand that they sit in a desk and listen to someone talk for five hours. No one loves the freedom of unhindered bathroom breaks being interrupted by having to raise your hand for a hall pass.
The day-before-school-sadness hasn't left me just because I no longer have to go to school. Adult life is just one consecutive school year with two-week breaks in between, but I still felt desperately sad the last day of summer this year. Since both of my kids were either at summer camp or preschool, I found this baffling. Nothing about my life was changing. I'd still drop them off somewhere in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon.
Then it occurred to me the symbolism of it all. The first day of school means shorter days, colder weather, fewer opportunities to eat ice cream, and nine months until summer begins, again. It means we don't have any more vacations planned or spontaneous days off to look forward to.
I found myself wandering around with an ache in my heart. I tried to make the last day of summer not so sad with a swimming playdate, but nothing was going to change the fact that the next day all hope would be lost. We'll have to wait until June for that wide-open, hopefulness of the first, long days of the year. In the meantime, we're just going to be sad for a little bit.