First of all, this is an ode to the month of August, not an episode of Seinfeld.
Today my friends in the school district where I used to attend as a student and later teach elementary kids went back to school. I wish them all the luck in the world while simultaneously offering them my deepest condolences that they are missing out on the wonderful new discovery that has come with my current job: I have discovered… THE MONTH OF AUGUST!
When I was a kid I absolutely hated the month of August. Back then we started school usually around August 20th or so. As a result, I just saw August as this long, hot, sticky, miserable period of time in limbo waiting for school to start. There was nothing to do except organize and reorganize my brand new stash of back to school clothes and school supplies. There was also the pastime of calling the drugstore every few hours to see if the much anticipated back to school issue of Seventeen had hit the newsstand yet and then the adventure of walking to the drugstore to get one (being allowed to walk to the drugstore was the ultimate rite of passage in my neighborhood – in some ways it was a bigger deal than getting a driver’s license). And then when I finally did get my hands on a copy, I would look through it a million times, dog ear the pages, and have my mom help me scour the city for more back to school must haves that Seventeen told me I needed. And then back to the organizing and reorganizing of the new clothes and supplies with the ones I already had. In other words, August was always a time for being antsy and spinning my wheels.
More recently as a teacher, I saw August as a time of frantic stress filled with trying to get my room at school ready before the two so called “teacher work days” at the start of the school year which were full of meetings but completely devoid of time for any actual “teacher work.” Unless you are a teacher, you have no idea how you can actually feel your blood pressure rise as you watch the clock hands race forward in time as you think about all the name tags you need to put on desks while you are required to do some sort of “fun” activity to build camaraderie with people you already like in the first place and who are every bit as cranky and stressed as you are while you all painfully endure the forced fun together. Phew. I feel like I need to catch my breath just remembering all this….
These days though, my job at a preschool that starts the day after Labor Day has enabled me to embrace August for what I’ve recently discovered it should have been all along: The Month of Nothing. As a remnant of my past life, I am still in the habit of rushing to get my doctors’ appointments and everything else that HAS to get done before school starts out of the way at the end of July and early August leaving the rest of August totally open for… NOTHING!!! I have actual empty spaces on my calendar – something that doesn’t happen during any other month of the year. It’s glorious – like gaining a whole month I never knew existed. I’ve heard that many places in Europe totally shut down during the month of August, and I’m thinking they are on to something! August – where have you been all my life?!?