The scorching summer days are coming to an end. The sun is setting a little earlier, soccer practice has started, and my kids are really fed up with each other.
Back to school is an interesting time. There is always a bit of excitement mixed with a bit of anxiety. Like a family reunion, the kids run to each other on the first day, feasting on stories of trips to the beach, sleepovers, and visits from the tooth fairy.
The biggest tradition of all, however, is that trip the week before school starts to get some new clothes.
Like the opening phrase of a book or the first note of a long-awaited new album, the first day of school outfit sets the tone for the whole year. A chance to tell the world, or at least the whole class, who you are.
Many years ago, I spent all summer looking forward to the day my Grandma Hardwick would pick me up, take me to lunch, and let me pick out a handful of new outfits. For that day, like a dog staring at a plate of forbidden food, I would look forward to the first day of school so I could put on my new clothes. I remember a year when I got a new long-sleeved shirt that I loved and was tortured by Mom’s demand that I wait until the weather was cooler to wear it.
Maybe I’m making too much fabric sewn together; maybe it’s not that deep. Maybe I’m the victim of years and years of publicity.
It probably wasn’t even really about the clothes, in hindsight. I think it was mostly a fresh start. A chance to define what you were going to be and leave the old you behind, the clothes and all. As trees begin to shed last spring’s leaves in preparation for new growth, children everywhere are preparing for what next year will bring.