I have a distinct memory of standing in my dad’s boat, which was parked on the street in front of our house, defending my love of fall to the boy who would one day break my heart. I was 10 years-old and wearing a pink t-shirt with an Ewok on it. My face was peeling from a summer at the beach. And yes, I was playing in a parked boat in front of my house. The boy who would one day break my heart was walking his beagle down the street and you’d think I could remember who struck up the conversation about fall, but storing useless information is funny this way.
“Eww, why do you like fall?” the boy said. “That’s when we have to go back to school.”
His point made me feel even nerdier than you’d think possible for someone wearing an Ewok shirt, though it was flawed because we don’t go back to school in fall. It’s still summer for a good two weeks past Labor Day.
I still love fall. I love them all, but fall is best of all. The other night when my preschooler melted down at the mall and I thought my world was ending (melodramatic much?), I helped my older kid pick out jeggings and shirts from stores that all carry the same clothes yet are painfully spread out. The mall could easily be condensed to 10 stores and then maybe preschooler crises could be avoided (ha).
My older kid was getting ready to start middle school and she was nervous as hell about it, which was unusual for her. She’d say “What if I have a lot of homework?” and I’d remember creepy Mr. Shorko who taught math and flirted with all the 6th grade girls. She’d say “What if I can’t open my locker?” and I’d remember that time I spent 20 minutes trying to open a locker that wasn’t even mine. She’d say “What if I can’t find my bus at the end of the day?” and I’d remember the time I kissed Danny on the bus in 7th grade and was afraid I’d get a hickey because clearly I had no idea what hickeys were. Instead of sharing all these horrible things with my daughter, I bought her new jeggings and overpriced shirts and told her it would all be fine and that middle school will soon feel as familiar as elementary school did.
When I went to parent orientation last spring, the guidance counselor asked how many of us loved middle school and only a few hands shot up. When she asked how many hated it, many more shot up. “Good,” she said. “Keep it to yourself. Your kids are not you.”
Our kids are not us. Our past is not our future. Fall is a fun time to reinvent yourself. Buy some new clothes and a Trapper Keeper and then get your life back on track because you spent all summer playing in a boat that wasn’t even in the water and didn’t accomplish anything of note. I love fall for the fresh start it offers and I’m not ashamed to say it.