At the top of the Ferris wheel of summer

At the top of the Ferris wheel of summer

I have a confession: As a child, I was always very excited to return to school.

While others bemoaned the end of summer and the diminished freedom of fall, I felt the rush that comes with the purchase of new school supplies and looked forward to the return to the familiar routine of the academic year.

Even when my daughter was little, I would get excited for both of us when it came time to head back to school. I didn't necessarily feel that way because I was sick of her, but more because I felt like "First grade was the best!" Who doesn't want to relive all that fun again through the eyes of their child? I would even go so far as to treat myself to an adult beverage on School Year's Eve because it was time to celebrate.

But this year, I'm not feeling any of the glee that I have in years past. I'm feeling downright sad about closing the book on this summer.

I may feel this way because my girl will be a teen very soon. Or because 8th grade feels like the last stop before she pulls out on the high school train with the next stop being college. That may be hitting home because of an image I saw on Facebook reminding me that parents have only 300 or so weeks with children between 7th and 12th grades. (Gee, thanks, Internet. Really appreciate you dialing back the pressure there.)

Perhaps it's because school isn't as fun for either of us as it used to be. Or maybe it's because I feel like I was supposed to make this summer amazing and I feel like I have failed to do so.

While I know it is not my mandate to deliver amazing all the time, perhaps there is still a chance to carve out a wee bit more sacred summer space. We still have a few precious days left before school begins here, and I plan to savor it.

On her Facebook page today, Kate DiCamillo shared what she calls "the best August words I know" by Natalie Babbitt in Tuck Everlasting:

"The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel, when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless and hot."

I'm hoping to savor these motionless days at the top of the Ferris wheel of summer. I plan to soak up the view from here, before the whoosh of school brings us back down to the ground.

And I'm hoping that when we get there, I've rediscovered my excitement for the start of the new school year, which is a whole other kind of carnival ride.

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