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Just Give Me a Minute to Enjoy the Fuh-reaking Summer

It’s only July — don’t talk to me about ‘back to school’


Published on: July 05, 2024

a parent and baby enjoy the summer sunset while car camping
Here's to slow summers and car camping with our kids while they still want to hang with us. Photo: iStock

Back to school?! What happened to ‘have a great summer’?

Just as the last embers flamed out on the Fourth of July fireworks, an email from my son’s school appeared in my inbox with this subject line: “Back to school information.”

I almost choked on my barbecued hot dog. 

The warm season just started. School ended for my son at the end of June, the official start of summer. It had only been 18 days. There were still 75 days of summer left. It was only week three of camp — they only had Red and Blue Day. There were still so many colors to go. Why was my son’s school emailing hello? We just said goodbye. The ink wasn’t even dried on all the “H.A.G.S.” messages in his yearbook. 

The school year was so fast-paced, running from one activity to another, followed by a quick dinner and homework. I looked forward to slowing down in the summer and now I refuse to be rushed.

It wasn’t just my inbox that was pushing the arrival of fall. I was dripping with sweat when I walked into my favorite retail shop and I could not find a pair of shorts. It’s all sweaters, long pants and boots. Boots? I just painted my toes Fiery Fiesta Red — I don’t want to cover them up yet! 

Too soon for flannels or No. 2 pencils

According to Adweek, back-to-school shopping starts for many people after the Fourth of July and peaks by the beginning of August. Retailers such as Target, Staples and Walmart have already started their ad campaigns for fall merchandise and are stocking the shelves accordingly.

I’ve been anticipating the arrival of summer all year long, but before I can even sink into my cheesy paperback, I’m already being harassed to start stocking up on No. 2 pencils and black-marbled notebooks.  

The school year was so fast-paced, running from one activity to another, followed by a quick dinner and homework. I looked forward to slowing down in the summer and now I refuse to be rushed. 

Holding on to summer priorities

Our summer line-up includes day trips with my kids to the beach and the water park, hosting impromptu picnics with my bounty of fresh produce from the local farmers market and even house projects I want to get accomplished on rainy days. It’s not time to think about a new school year. I still haven’t had a chance to put photos from the previous school year in my scrapbook.

My older daughter just graduated from college and my younger daughter will be a rising sophomore. These three months are our chance to reconnect before they head back off into their new lives, the lives that only include me in sporadic holiday visits, texts and quick phone calls. I want to savor this time, not spend it thinking about packing them up again.

Then there is my 14-year-old son, who still lives at home full-time. I want to hold his chubby little hand in mine for as long as I can. How much longer until he lets go? With many of his friends away, summer is my chance to hang out with him while he still wants to hang out with me. We might even build a sandcastle together, except we haven’t even gotten to the beach yet. I want the summer to last as long as possible. I need it to.

According to Adweek, back-to-school shopping starts in July and peaks in early August. Not for me! If I see this sign in your store window I'm running the other way with my kids. Photo: iStock

The idea of fall shopping when it is 95 degrees out makes me stressed. I’ve decided I’m going to take my chances and hope there will still be sweaters left to buy in September when fall really begins.

What’s next? When I do buy school supplies, I’ll be told I have enough qualifying purchases for a free Thanksgiving turkey. Why rush? Summer has just begun. For now, there is a romance novel and a margarita waiting poolside.

Editor's note: This personal essay was originally published in 2019. It was updated in July 2024 by senior editor Kristin Leong

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