September and I have a contentious relationship. The slow death of August always makes me sad; the fading of pink sunsets to inky black, the waning of summer’s warm breeze to a brisk chill. As the days get darker, so does my mood, until I’m nothing but a cranky, heat-seeking pile of sweaters at the end of the month. Jeremy occasionally pokes the pile with a broom, and if he hears a grunt, he assumes I’m alive. More than anything, I hate September because I get painful flashbacks of returning to school.
It’s almost cruel, giving kids two months of freedom, then punting them directly into a desk. For sixty shoeless days, I didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything, and suddenly I had to be up at seven in the morning, day after day. What kind of quackery was that? The stress, the anxiety, and the monotony were relentless, with every month darker and rainier than the last. I must have had teachers who were just hanging on until retirement, because I remember all of them as irritable, short-tempered shrews. I was annoying, but did Ms. Harrison have to roll her eyes every time I asked a question? My only fond memory of elementary school is Lumpy, the pony that lived in the field beside the school. His owner let us feed him apples, and he was a sweetie (the pony, not the owner, although I’m sure the owner had a nice personality).
In my twenties, I decided to reinvent September. I would save my money and fly anywhere warm. I ended up in Australia; since their seasons are backwards, I left Canada at the end of summer and flew into the beginning of theirs! Chasing the sun around the world was a great way to transform September into something that could be enjoyed. The month became the start of adventure, rather than the end freedom. Eventually, my visa ran out, and I left the Land Down Under and flew back into Canada’s cold and flu season. Talk about a homecoming.
Hopefully my daughter, Molly, enjoys this month. Hopefully I’ve kept my feelings under wraps, so she starts kindergarten with an open mind. I want school to be something she enjoys, rather than something she endures. Now that I’m older, I can see lovely things about this time of year that I never noticed before; the crunch of leaves underfoot, the smell of logs burning in fireplaces, and that ubiquitous “pumpkin spice” flavoring that turns up in everything from lattes to dental floss. I draw the line at pumpkin spice toilet paper – no one needs that, ever.
So here’s to September, and the return to school. The return of lunch bags, backpacks, and buses. Here’s to the start of Molly’s formal education, and my burgeoning fondness for September. Who knows, maybe they have pumpkin spice Prozac to get me through the month!