I know I’m going to get a lot of disagreement with this one, but I think my least favorite advertisement of all time has to be that Staples back to school ad that co-opts the Christmas holiday song "Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
I haven’t had to see it in ages, mainly because the Red Sox are pretty much all I tune in to during the summer. If you are like me and have watched nothing but NESN since Memorial Day, you probably think Cialis is the only consumer product buying ad space these days. And I am fresh out of E.D. acronyms for the kids. But I’m getting off-topic.
I’m going to just say it: I hate that ad because I hate sending the kids back to school. I know that parents with structured schedules have a tough time juggling the summer calendar, and I understand for many people, it’s a relief to get back to routine.
I hate routine, I hate schedules, I don’t even know what time it is right now, except that it might be getting close to time to eat something.
That’s what summer is all about, and I never want it to end. Now that the kids are old enough to put on their own bathing suits and sunblock, and throw together an unhealthy breakfast of carbs and simple sugars, all I need to do is drive them to the beach. And I’m going there anyway. At some point today, don’t ask me when.
A day spent on, near, or in the ocean, rolling in the sand or fishing, sailing and soaking up vitamin D, is hands-down better than a day indoors. Summer is about green grass, warm berries, Del’s, bare feet, steamers, and a car full of sand. The start of school may not exactly slam the door on that, but it is definitely the dead canary in my coal mine.
The simple truth is, I never liked going back to school. I can’t help but feel bad for anyone who is forced to spend a gorgeous late-August/early-September morning trudging off to some institution with 40 pounds of books with such scintillating titles as Voyages in Grammar and Our Fifty States strapped to their little backs.
I don’t tell them this, of course – I want them to enjoy their school days and learn everything there is to learn, get into great colleges and find jobs that let them get paid well for doing something they actually enjoy. I want those apples to fall far from this tree.
But in February, when it’s dark well before dinner and you can’t go outside without the moisture on your eyeballs freezing over, I look back (and forward) to long summer days on Second Beach, Hog Island or Potter’s Cove, and long summer evenings watching the kids race Optimists or enjoying long picnics on the beach, lingering well after dark with bedtime suspended until further notice.
I never daydream about structure and schedules.
Which is why I may be one of very few parents in town who think Irene’s silver lining is that school is now on hold until after Labor Day. It’s as it should be. The forecast is perfect, and I now have four more days to bolster the memories that sustain me from Christmas to Easter. These are the good old days.