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Ready or not, it's almost back-to-school time

August 7, 2013 - Betsy Bethel
Back-to-school preparations are exciting.

A gold-medal procrastinator when it comes to anything resembling a "duty," I can tell I am stoked about back-to-school because Emma's school supply list is all checked off, and her folders, markers, notebooks, etc. are neatly stacked in the spare room awaiting the first day, which isn't for another two weeks. In fact, I think I had them all purchased before August, which I'm sure is a record.

Our school's parent-faculty group had its used uniform sale Aug. 1, and I was thrilled to get several good-quality tops and bottoms, including a second of one of her favorite skirts. I probably got $150 worth of clothes for 11 bucks! Last week, I dropped off her blazer to be dry cleaned and have the tail seam repaired. I was so proud of myself when I picked it up yesterday! This must be what my sister, Mrs. Organized, feels like all the time!

Last night, I braved the oven that we call the attic and hauled down the bag of school clothes that I just dragged up there 10 weeks ago. Thanks to thrift stores, consignment shops, the PFA sale and online sales, Emma has plenty of clothes, and she begrudgingly tried on all the skirts, pants and shorts last night. We ended up with four piles: the OK pile, the iffy pile (shorts that are a little too tight, pants that dangerously graze the tops of her shoes), the to-be-altered pile and the giveaway pile. I was grateful I weeded out most of the trashed items at the end of the school year. I'm also thankful my neighbor and friend is a sewing whiz who agreed to do the altering!

I think one of the reasons I'm so prepared for the school year to start is because I want to be able to relax and spend time with Emma as much as possible before the big day. I don't want to be rushing around in those last few days, wasting precious time with my girl. We've had a good summer so far, but despite what my flurry of preparations may indicate to the contrary, I'm not ready for it to end.

I read headlines day after day about children being victimized, dying of diseases or unfathomable freak accidents, living in horrible conditions, and it makes me want to hang on tightly to my girl and never let go. Emma attends camps pretty much all summer, but it's still a much more carefree, unstructured time. With the school year also comes daily homework and extra-curricular activities that serve to enrich her life and provide valuable experiences, but that also put the squeeze on our time spent together doing nothing but swinging on the porch swing, playing board games, staying up late reading together or hanging with friends, and just ... "being."

So, while the prep for back-to-school has been fun, I am not as excited about the start of second grade, when her attention will be divided among her friends, studies and sports. Right now, I'm glad I am still the No. 1 person with whom she wants to spend her time. I'm hanging onto that with both hands while I can.


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