When my daughter returned to school, I was determined to be positive about it.
This time of year, you can hear it bouncing around the halls so often, you'd swear our home was an architectural masterpiece designed with an eternal echo. But each time you hear, "I'm hungry," it is a new plea.
Ninety percent of the time, it's not that my children are wanting for food, it's because they are bored.
"I'm not bored," my 6-year-old said. She accented this by falling across the couch and declaring into a pillow, "I'm starving!"
"We just ate," I said, "I think you just need to find something to do."
Not sure where I learned it, maybe a Farmers' Almanac, but if you consider the frequency of these requests and number of weeks it has been since the yard needed a cut, then you can tell the time of year. Well, I thought, it has been three weeks since our crunchy, brown yard needed a trim, must mean it's time to go back to school.
When I was a kid, this time of year haunted me. I almost couldn't enjoy my last few days for the simple reason they were the last few days before summer was over and school started again. I thought of all of the things I would be missing, like climbing trees, sleeping in late and not using my brain.
I found the anxiety of a new place, not knowing where I was going and meeting new people, all very overwhelming. Sure, when the first day of school settled in, and I found my friends, things were much better. But, when you're a kid, you don't consider these things.
I'm sure this trait isn't hereditary, and I probably looked forward to returning to school more times than I didn't, but when my daughter returned to school, I was determined to be positive about it.
My wife and I leisurely reminded her about the return to school a number of times. We didn't dwell on the end of summer but on the excitement of learning new things.
At dinner one night, she admitted she was very nervous about the whole thing. I asked what was the biggest thing she was worried about.
"What if I don't know anyone?" she said. "And what if I can't find my classroom?"
I told her I knew exactly how she felt.
We assured her she would know a few kids, and that the nice thing about not knowing people is that you can make new friends. And as for her classroom, "Don't worry, they won't let you roam the halls all day," I said. "Just ask someone."
She was iffy on the whole situation. Then we went to the school's open house and met her teacher. She really liked her classroom and recognized a few friends from last year. One little girl walked up to her and asked if she wanted to be friends.
This made everything better. And her excitement eased all of our anxiety.
She returned home after the first day full of energy and ready to go back.
I was proud, and I finally cut the grass.
Reach Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-580-8490.
On Twitter: @DaveManley