There is something universally motivating about the . New sneakers, new notebooks, a new season and new agendas. As Waterford students donned their backpacks and boarded school buses this morning, many parents breathed a little easier. We look forward to renewed structure and boundaries in our family's work, play and sleep schedules.
"Are you enjoying your summer?" I said to people I encountered in recent weeks.
It was a great way to quickly exchange stories about our respective family's fun in the sun. We discussed exciting destinations, unique camps, beach and park days. We talked about how much our children have grown. We also commiserated about the physical hazards of excessive sitting during road and air travel, overexposure to electronic screens and chronically abused bedtimes. When the time came, how were the kids going to wake up at the sound of their alarm at the crack of dawn?
And yet, as my own kids attested this morning, their inner clocks were far superior to the ones sitting on their bedroom desks. Apparently, they woke up a couple of times before enough daylight even seeped through their curtains. One eye opened slightly to peek at the clock, only to realize it wasn't time yet. They anxiously awaited the official time to rise. They welcomed school, if not for new academic challenges, perhaps for the chance to simply see their friends and classmates regularly again.
Both my fourth grader and eighth grader agreed it was a good idea to prepare their school bags and lay out their clothes before bed. This alleviated morning stress and facilitated their movement from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen. Alarms were set. My alarm sounded at 6 a.m. and I joined my eighth grader in a warm-up jog around the neighborhood. It got our blood flowing. We were energized for the day. It helped him start training for his cross country season. Little did he know that it was me who needed the company out there. I needed to jump start my own new fitness regimen. The cool, crisp air and golden daybreak greeted our every stride.
While he enjoyed breakfast, I packed the kids' school lunches. A few minutes later, thirty minutes ahead of her alarm clock's setting, his sister joined us in the kitchen, dressed for school. It was the first time she had ever sat at the breakfast table before her brother boarded his earlier middle school bus. She surprised us and herself too.
Once he was off to school and she was finished with her meal, the dog realized he was in for a big treat. He immediately sat by the front door to listen for the rumbling and roar of the bus. He paced in anticipation as I grabbed some plastic bags and his leash.
"Ah, the familiar sounds of a good morning," his canine brain must have recalled.
My dog must have revelled in the sound of neighborhood kids approaching the edge of their driveways and barked at the screech of the halting big yellow monster. Once she boarded and the noise of the bus faded down the road, he pulled me into the street and pranced up the hill. It was his time now. It had not been as predictable all summer as the family schedule became uber flexible.
Now he could look forward to his one mile a day walk with me. And after a summer sabbatical from writing, I can once again count on the flow of story ideas that our morning walks will bring.