The contrast between my childhood life and my children's lives is never more vivid than the days before school-- we don't do back-to-school shopping, not really. Not like the ugly mall trips to try desperately to look like some back-to-school ad in a magazine. (It's important to confess that the mall trips were ugly because of me, and my Very Particular Tastes, which drove my mother to the brink of madness. But a mall trip wasn't an everyday occurance, so all five of us packed in the car, with our needs for sneakers, lunch bags, notebooks, my brothers five inches taller than the beginning of summer, battling for giant bags of food from the McDonald's drive through...)
We just don't do that, and I'm not claiming "my way is better," but it's calmer. The weather won't change to "fall weather" for a few more weeks. Let them wear summer clothes. The kids' school is blissfully unpretentious, full of kids who wear second-hand clothes, full of kids who don't fuss over fashion much. This is a stroke of luck: nothing is at stake on the first day of school, not like was for me as a kid. We've no pretense that a change to "cool" clothes will remake us into cool people, no pressure, a blessing.
Most of the clothes we need live in the attic, in the "next size up" boxes I sorted in June. Madeleine hates jeans and won't wear them, so we purchased a pair of gauchos and a pair of "yoga pants" last week. REI's Labor Day Sale is better than the miles of malls-- Brendan found a pair of Keens for fifteen bucks, marked down from $45. Madeleine found the stinking cutest pair of J-41 maryjanes, also marked down, and her first real purse (which she carries to bed, she loves it so). In Scott's absence, we choose three pairs of shorts for him, to replace all the missing ones while he swims at the beach. I'm all set for clothes and shoes (from my summer shopping trip to REI), but I snagged a neoprene/wetsuit shirt for swimming in the cold ocean water. We grabbed two Luna Bars for a snack, at the checkout, and when I got in the car I phoned Baja Fresh to order of burritos-to-go.
We drove straight to the beach to meet Scott with our bag of burritos, the sun still hot at four in the afternoon. Kids dove in, Scott pitched ball, Madeleine and I eventually finished our books, unwilling to let go of the last day of summer vacation until the bugs chased us indoors, for our dessert of chocolate milkshakes, and for the early bedtimes that will characterize the coming weeks.
Finished the biography of Emerson-- a good read but looooooong. 24 books to go, this school year. Today is for making lists of packable lunches, breakfasts kids will not refuse, fall cleaning chores. Tomorrow, blessed houseguests. Plenty to do-- I am trying to do it slowly, to savor a little.