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Oh man! Just when I was getting used to lax bed times, sleeping in, sitting in the sun for what seemed like endless hours, and the occasional moans about there being nothing to do, that mailman had to deliver a very solemn reminder that the countdown has officially begun.

The summer newsletter from school arrived in the mail on Monday complete with schedules, procedures, save the dates, and school supply lists. Talk about a wake up call.

Okay, so I've been aware that school is just around the corner. And to be quite frank, there have been moments this summer where I've wondered if it really would be that bad if we had year-round school. But the official package in my hot little hands made me realize that I am in no way prepared for the beginning of the new school year, and I only have a couple of weeks to get it together.

This year is going to be different. For the past seven years, I have been extremely lucky to never have to worry about how my kids will get to and from school. It's been as simple as opening the front door, shooing the kids out, watching them walk two houses up the street and crossing the street onto school property. I've loved that luxury as I've watched countless parents driving like maniacs up my street and then waiting and waiting in line to get their kids to the school's front door. It's been great (and sometimes a little too satisfying.) But this year, my older son goes to middle school and he's going to have to get there somehow--how that is, I have not quite figured out.

At the end of the last school year, some parents and I talked about a carpool or about paying to have bus privileges, and we all decided that we'd talk about it later. And then it dropped. You know, summer gets going, we forget we need to think about things, and then suddenly it's go time. I still don't know all my options and that figuring out thing needs to start right now. 

Then, there's the matter of back-to-school clothes. Having boys, thankfully the fashion thing has never been much of an issue. But, in the past six months, my boys have grown. Oh, how they've grown! My 12-year-old is three or four inches taller than me and the little one is now the height of an average nine and a half-year-old (or so my pediatrician tells me.) All the pants that somehow made it out alive from the last school year don't even begin to figure into the mix now. And shoes? Well, flip flops won't cut it, so we are in the market for at least two pair of shoes per kid. Groan.

I've always been good about buying backpacks and not succumbing to trendy or character packs. My son carried the same backpack from Land's End 3rd through 6th grade, and I anticipate my younger son's pack will get him through another couple of years. My kids are hard on things, and getting something durable is definitely worth the price. While the pack that my older son carried for four years is still in reasonably good shape, it's the size. He's going to need something bigger to haul all those middle school books around in. I'm hoping to get an email with a sale any day now.

School supplies? What? The school has supplied the kids with most of their basic supplies for as long as I can remember. It's been weird over the years seeing families with lists hanging out in that section at Target or wherever picking and choosing various items. Of course, we always had the suggested boxes of tissues and wipes and things like that, and I'd pick up some extra stuff to donate to the classroom, but there never was a list. This year, the school projects it will save 25K not supplying the kids with supplies. Hey, I'm cool with that.

But you should see this list! It's not that there are strange or seemingly unneeded items on it. It's just that it's so particular. When I was a kid, you were told to get notebooks, folders, crayons and #2 pencils. It didn't matter what brand or color. My list for 2nd grade tells me folder colors and how many of each, how many prongs or no pronged folders, particular brands of markers and crayons, an unreal number of glue sticks, and the list goes on and on. This is not something I can buy from memory--I actually took a picture of the darned thing just so I don't mess up when I'm shopping. And for the other kid? Well, I'm in the same boat.

The week before school starts is filled with orientations, back-to-school nights, meetings and all other sorts of things. I'm gradually filling my calendar with everything I cannot forget. I feel like we're going from a nice deep sleep into marathon mode. 

When you look at it, I guess it's not all that bad. I'm not surprised, just unprepared. We have a lot to do in the next couple of weeks while also trying to savor what is left of our summer. I'll try to check a few things off the list every day and hope that by the time August 14th gets here we will have had plenty of late nights, long sunny days, a few more memories and finally, the first day of school. 

Mollie Protzman

Mollie Protzman


Mollie is an Omaha native and a mom of two boys ages 13 and 8. She's been married for 20 years and spent most of those first 10 years living in various cities around the country. Before kids, she was in marketing communications and public relations and then stayed home with her boys for 11 years while doing freelance writing on the side. The day after her youngest one went to kindergarten, she just about went berserk with the quiet in the house and nothing constructiv ...

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