ARE WE THERE YET

A mood even new sneakers can’t fix

LORI CLINCH

Well, it happened. The powers that be pulled the plug on our summer and sent it right down the drain. In fact, the more I tried to stop the passing of time, the faster it went.

I have to be honest with you; it really just grinds my gears.

One minute it was June. The next it was July and once the Fourth hits, it’s as if someone sets the time machine at warp speed. Even though I truly hoped that August would remain in the distant future, it came riding in like a school bus, full speed ahead.

Worse yet, the “Back to School” sales were everywhere and I noticed that practically every business in the country was getting in on the action.

Florists had “Back to School” sales, lumberyards ran return-to-education specials, and I secretly hoped that the airlines would soon join the crowd and offer a special to fly me right out of town.

Although the commercials were showing people getting ready for the season by loading up brushes at the paint store and stocking up on hammers, any mother worth her pens and pencils would tell you that it just isn’t so.

Real mothers prepare with glue sticks, tablets, and downing the last of the cooking sherry.

A better woman would help her children plan for school by putting them back on a rigorous schedule. She would encourage an extra hour of reading every day, change the family discussions from first downs to advanced chemistry and replace ESPN with a dry erase board so that she could brush her young men up on the concepts of photosynthesis.

Me, I like to prepare for the new school year by clipping “Back to School” coupons and then misplacing them until long after the discounts have expired.

Since my children would rather snap a ball than dig into a book, I have to bring up the subject of education carefully. Even though it was just around the corner, the mere mention of the word “school” was still sending my boys screaming into the streets in a panic.

In fact, they hid their backpacks, stashed their notebooks, and although I’d offered extra credit for the first person who could produce last year’s TI-30 calculator, my kids flat-out refused to admit that the season of learning was upon us.

They forbid me to mention school, homework or edification. They’re smart, to be sure, but they’d just as soon stay as far as possible from the likes of textbooks, standardized tests, and protractors.

Nonetheless, the pages on the calendar turned, and with only two days to go, we’d put off the “Back to School” shopping for as long as we possibly could and headed downtown.

Although they walked under their own power, I felt like I was mentally dragging the boys to the gallows.

“Look, these shorts are on sale!” I exclaimed with perhaps too much enthusiasm.

“Whatever you like,” Charlie managed with disinterest.

“How about new sneakers?” I asked in a cheery voice. After all, who doesn’t want new sneakers? “My old ones are fine.”

They didn’t want new belts, could have cared less about shirts, and responded to my plea to pick out backpacks with great disdain.

Even the prospect of new socks from The Sports Shoppe did not snap them out of their despair.

Yet, I kept the faith. I kept my chin up, my smile intact and faced the end of summer with a smile and a song. “Hey Mom,” Charlie asked as I hummed alongside him and down the hall of the mall, “are you happy that we have to go back to school?”

“No my boy, I’m not happy at all,” I replied as I tousled his hair. “It’s just the way life is. Moments come and they pass and sometimes you’re forced to face things head-on with a positive attitude.” “Yeah, well, here’s a mood killer for ya. Did you realize that Lawrence is a senior and that this is the last year that you’ll ever get him ready for high school?”

“Thanks a big fat lot,” I responded, and I was suddenly more bummed than the boys were.

Even my new sneakers couldn’t fix my newfound funk.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to loriclinch2010@gmail.com.