Every time I think about the first day of a new school year I smell floor wax. Everything is always neat, clean and organized the first day of school, even the teachers, parents and students. Going back to school in late summer used to be just part of the ebb and flow of life. Now, like everything else, it’s an event.

Instead of getting a new box of 16 Crayolas, a couple of wide ruled spiral notebooks and a handfull of #2 pencils, the back to school list, at first glance, has to make parents sweat. Even when I was sending three kids the register total was scary.

My biggest challenge was school clothes. The jeans that fit in the spring always looked like capris by the end of the summer. And I know there is no scientific evidence, but I’m positive sunshine and water make kids’ feet grow.

I can only imagine what sending off a new college student involves now, especially a girl. I was in Home Depot the other day and there was a whole area designated for dorm decorating. Linda, my freshman roommate, and I thought we were so trendy because we bought matching turquoise and green bedspreads. Now everyone needs, lamps, rugs, bulletin boards, refrigerators and microwaves.

Sending kids back to school is not only challenging financially, but emotionally. For some reason, for me, it felt the same to send one to college as it did kindergarten. It’s probably a little, or a lot, about losing control … like I had it in the first place. The start of every school year was a fresh reminder; all I could do was kiss them goodbye and pray.

About mid-October the new wears off of school and everyone starts looking forward to Christmas break. Parents have had time to recover a bit financially and bravely face restocking for the spring semester. The good thing about that time of year is the new clothes bought to replace the ones outgrown can be disguised as Christmas presents. Fall and it’s cooler weather must also stimulate growth hormones.

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