Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 3, 2012

Wiping away the summer is never easy

By Garret Leiva

---- — Today I offer up my condolences and rusty metal lunch box to every school-age kid.

Here comes the big yellow bus of reality: summer is over.

According to constellations and calendars, it's still summertime. You children known the truth. Parents, let the bedtime sanctions begin.

The wheels on the bus once again go round and round.

It's been decades since I last dodged study hall spitballs. Some back-to-school memories, however, remain sharp as a No. 2 pencil.

It's no wonder my daughter cringes when I hug her too tight at the bus stop — fifth-graders find parents extremely weird.

School is a return to the world of "lefty" scissors, long division and playground Darwinism. Some poor young souls face the dual challenge of puberty and locker combinations.

The first week of school is a rude awakening — especially those 6:30 a.m. middle school bus stops.

Too bad you kids spent summer break updating your Facebook status with boredom reports. Try not to think about the hours you twittered away as you take your assigned seat. Oh, about that seat, mind the crusty nose goblins.

I found going back to school similar to pulling off a Band-Aid. Every year it was a mix of anxiety, pain, pulled arm hairs and a scar or two. Of course that was just the bus ride to school.

Each new elementary school year meant changes in teachers, bus routes and colors in the cafeteria meatloaf.

It was hard to return to subtracting fractions. It was equally difficult to figure out rusty friendships and new hallway foes.

Like most kids, I didn't savor my idyllic days unfettered from homework and hot lunch trays; I inhaled them.

Two days into summer vacation, I pitched the Tigers to a World Series win.

I also jumped Snake River Canyon on my bike and saved our planet from certain destruction — twice.

By day three I was bored out of my mind.

The chapters of my summer vacation included titles like "Take Apart Intricate Mechanisms ... Before Dad Gets Home" or "Shove Evidence Under the Bed ... Before Dad Gets Home."

Sadly, my summer break read like Cliff Notes instead of a leisurely novel.

By late August I rediscovered the true bliss of childhood. It was too late; summer was over. I went from gluing model airplanes to modeling back-to-school Toughskin jeans for my mother.

The constellations and calendars still said summertime. I knew it was a new season: bedtime sanctions.

September is here: a season of shorter days, cooler nights and algebra books.

Tomorrow morning I will wait with our fifth-grader as she anticipates the arrival of yellow-bus reality.

It will take awhile to acclimate to the new season of backpacks and non-metal lunch boxes.

Like school desk nose goblins, it's not that easy to wipe away summer.

Garrett Leiva is the Record-Eagle community editor. He can be reached at 933-1416 or at