The halcyon days are over. No more waking up at the crack of dawn, lounging around on the couch in pajamas and watching cartoons. No more trips to the cineplex to see the latest talking animal movie. No more mid-week sleepovers, late-night campfires or trips to the fair.
School has started, which means I'm actually going to have to start being responsible.
Some parents cheer for the start of school because it means sending the kids away for four to six hours, allowing their sanity to return. Other parents are bummed when September hits because it means the time they spend as a family is dramatically reduced.
For me? The beginning of school means I have to work.
The wife leaves for her job before the kids head off to school. Which means I'm going to have to drag my sorry carcass out of bed early and pull on some clothes far earlier that I had to the previous three months.
I have to make sure the kids are a) cleaned, b) dressed, c) fed and d) out the door. Sometimes not always in that order. And that process will invariably lead to drama most mornings.
Especially now that the boy is starting preschool. The girl is fine; she's started third grade, and she knows the morning drill. It's the boy who is going to have to make the biggest adjustment. Even though he claims he's excited, I know he's not. He wants to be at home, playing with cars and action figures while watching Nickelodeon and drinking juice boxes.
Like his dad.
He doesn't understand that preschool will benefit him down the line, that the experience of being around kids his own age will help him learn social skills, or that he'll learn to read a lot earlier than his sister did. He just knows that he no longer gets to play without boundaries. And while my heart goes out to the little guy, he has to learn there are no more free rides. He's 3. Playtime is over.
The daughter is a whole other situation. Even though she's 8 and understands she has to go to school, that doesn't mean she has to like it. I anticipate many a morning with rolled eyes and short responses as I try to get her out the door. Especially now that there's going to be more pressure on her in the classroom.
Third grade is when things start getting tough. More will be expected from her by her teacher, which means one thing: more homework. I'm going to have to play the heavy hand in the morning and make sure her work is done before she heads out the door. This will add to the drama, I'm sure.
Add to the equation the fact that the two schools are far from one another, but their start times are quite close. So making sure I have enough travel time is crucial. No more driving like the "Dukes of Hazzard" at the last minute to get one to class before the bell. I'm going to need to learn some "Fast and the Furious"-style drifting to drop both the little angels off in time.
Because I'm going to be late. I always am.
But as soon as I drop them off, I'll have some free time, right? You'd think that, but that's not the case. Because now, as soon as I get home, I will have to clean up from that morning's hurricane. Do you know how fast a clean room can get destroyed by a 3-year-old boy? Our living room can go from zero to trashed in 8.9 seconds.
During summer, I never had to worry about cleaning up the house. The wife would come home and demand why the house was a wreck. All I'd have to do is shrug my shoulders, point to the kids and say, "What are you gonna do? It's summer..."
Well that excuse won't fly now with four hours of "free" time. Dishes, laundry, sweeping, mopping. After all that, I will have to head to my real job. Sigh.
Yeah, summer is over, and no one is going to miss it more than me.
MATT MURRAY is a designer-copy editor at the Daily Pilot, as well as an established blogger-videographer-podcaster. Pile on him at firstname.lastname@example.org.