Michelle Martin

Rushing the season

August 8, 2018

I love back-to-school time.

Really, I do. I always have, even when I was the one going back to school. New notebooks, new pencils, full bottles of glue. Boxes of markers where every color worked. New teachers, new groups of classmates, new material to learn.

But somehow, this year, it all seems a little early. Like when I was 7 years old, and when the Fourth of July came and went, summer felt like it was half over already. Never mind that we got out of school in mid-June and didn’t go back until after Labor Day. 

For Teresa, at least, school starts in August. It always has, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that we’re getting ready for it now. It might be pushing 90 degrees outside, but I just measured her and ordered a new uniform skirt and sweatpants for gym, even though she’ll probably be in shorts until late September. If there’s any metaphor for growth over the summer, it’s this: Last year’s uniforms no longer fit.

I bought 10 spiral notebooks at Target; this time of year, they’re on sale for 25 cents each. I’ll try to get another set of 10, or maybe two more, by the time the sale ends. Teresa doesn’t even need them for school. Her school supplies, purchased online at the end of last school year, will be waiting in her classroom when she arrives.

That system works on several levels: She’ll get the supplies ordered by her school, so I don’t worry about not being able to find the right set of markers or white versus colored index cards. Nearly all of her classmates will have ordered their supplies the same way, so there’s no envy over who got the better pictures on their folders. And it costs less, unless I was willing to take the time to study all the back-to-school sale fliers and go to three or four stores, getting the best deal on loose-leaf paper here and on blue or black ballpoint pens there.

But somehow, we still go through a few dozen spiral notebooks a year, and this is the only time you can get four for a dollar. Frank will use several, but he won’t know exactly what he needs until he gets to school and each teacher gives him his or her requirements. I’ll use them to write notes to teachers and to the kids and to work out math problems when I’m called on for homework help. Although, to be fair, it’s been a few years since I could do Frank’s math homework. At least not without watching a few YouTube tutorials first.

In less than three weeks, Teresa will be back in school. Frank starts five-day-a-week cross country practice this week. Caroline is ready to start her third year of college. Summer is drawing to a close.

There’s still time for a few trips to the beach, playdates with friends, even lazy days at home. But soon enough, it will be time to offer prayers for a good and fruitful school year, and for God’s blessings on all the students, the teachers and their families.


  • family life