I renewed my delight in the sound of the crack of new notebooks opening for the first time by insisting that my children start shopping for school supplies even before the first day of school. We never bought less than way-too-much, and our ‘supply closet’ became over the years our own Staples.I do not exaggerate in saying that neither I nor my daughter nor my son will ever have to buy another ballpoint pen, #2 pencil, 3 x 5 card or package of 3-ring lined binder paper.

I renewed my delight in the first outfit worn on the first day of school by sitting on my daughter’s floor the evening before every first day and watching her try on the arrangement of clothes that might, or might not, be the outfit in which she’d present herself on that day of entry.

And my anxiety returned the night before every first day, when I made my midnight rounds to their bedrooms and kissed away their sleeplessness and fear. I assured them, “You’ll like more teachers than you won’t like. All your friends will still want to talk to you.”

Undoubtedly my belief that Labor Day is the end of the year and September the start derives from the habits of being a student and raising students. It also conforms to the lunar Hebrew calendar, which marks time in my religious parallel universe, and the appearance of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

This year is different. My first-born child went off to college. We sold our suburban house and moved to a city apartment. This means I’m minus one student on the night before the first day of school, and our supply closet holds a measly amount. This is a double down-sizing. But I feel neither sad nor deprived. Rather, I’m thrilled by the change in the circular pattern of summer-fall and year end-year start. My daughter walked away from her father and me as naturally as she once got up from crawling and, with a hoot of laughter, walked across the room.

This time, crossing a street and directing herself to the path toward her dorm, she smiled and waved with the confidence of the queen reviewing her subjects. The apartment, albeit much smaller than the house, is the first adventure taken by my husband and me since our foray into parenthood. And I have my son still to kiss on that night before the first day.

The four of us will regroup, if not for the customary Labor Day barbeque then for Rosh Hashanah, and we’ll have new stories to tell for the new year.

Start the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.