I’m going out on a limb here and using “we” collectively when I talk about the global gasp of gratitude when the words “back to school” are spoken. Thought I’m confident you’d be in the minority if you don’t fall under this category.
Earlier this week my son Zach turned 9, and Wednesday he started the 4th grade. I love him deeply and almost to a fault. As he gets older, it becomes increasingly difficult to accept that he’s growing up.
I’m “that” dad who still calls him honey, and the same guy who (now) gets pushed away when I reach out to hug or kiss him.
I get it, as I went through this myself 30 some years ago, though it doesn’t make it any easier — especially when it’s on the receiving end.
So now that the disclaimers are off my chest, it’s time to get real.
The Truth Comes Out
Before you call DCFS on me, take a look in the mirror and admit it. You can’t wait (or have already rejoiced) for your kids to go back to school.
And if you’re on the east coast, you get mad at those of us in the midwest or in other places where our kids go back earlier than yours.
I’ve seen it all over social media — folks tweeting about it and updating their statuses about how glad they are that summer has officially come to an end.
If you’re a stay at home mom, or a parent who works from home, these are the best days of our lives, right? Well they are for me, I can assure you.
What I Really Mean to Say
Ok, so I’m being a bit dramatic here, but the beginning of school and fall typically means things “get back to normal” around here.
Like I said, I love Zach. And I love that I’m fortunate enough to work from home, and love that we have a finished basement where we can play baseball, soccer and football — during the morning on a work day. But …
There comes a time when reality sets in, and says that I have a responsibility to my company to get things done. Not that I haven’t done work this summer, but now that school’s back in session, I can do it a lot more efficiently.
Thankfully this year I’m at a much better place of mind, which means the frequent “Dad, can we play?” interruptions during the day have affected me a lot less than they did in years past.
I’ve never wanted to be “that” dad that says he can’t play, because he has to work — which means almost every time Zach has asked me this summer, I’ve given it to him. I want him to know he’s more important than my computer.
But … We are Selfish People
… at least I am, and I have no problem admitting it.
I think we all need “me” time, and when summer hits, the chances of that happening fall off the face of the earth. June, July and August are devoted to playing and doing family things.
And that’s ok, because those are times that I value heavily. But I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the freedoms I have when he’s back in school.
I can listen to music as loudly as I want, can frequent (and I mean frequent) Starbucks as often as I want and it means I can watch TV any time I want.
Having “me” time is important — more important than most of us think.
Getting Back to Efficiency
I mentioned working efficiently, and that’s something about this post that I want to hone in on. My wife Shelly leaves the house at 7:30 to take Zach to school, and then get home at 3:30.
If you’re mathematically challenged, that’s a healthy 8 hours a day that I’m no longer distracted. That’s 8 hours which I can focus exclusively on work, and get things done during the day that need to get done.
That also means at 3:30, when Zach comes home, I’m (usually) at the perfect place in my day to turn things off and put on the “play” clothes. In other words, I’m ready for family time, and not caught up with “things to do”.
I’d be willing to bet that Zach would much prefer 2-3 hours of having me entirely to himself than 7-8 summer hours of sporadic time here and there.
The Perfect Storm
If you’re into meteorology, you’ve probably heard things like … “conditions are coming together” and “things are just right” for X weather event to happen.
As summer ends, it changes the patterns in our house to allow for the perfect storm of quality time to occur — whether it’s me and Zach, Shelly and I, or even all 3 of us as a family.
When I can wake up, send him off to school, get work done and then be ready to spend the evening with the two people I love most in this world, I’d say that “back to school” are words more than welcome for me to hear.
In our household, we all truly win — really we do. But how about you?
What do you think of when you hear the words “back to school”, or how does it impact your life? Feel free to chime in by leaving a comment below.
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