Here is where I'll have to admit to a mean streak - I enjoy seeing the looks on most kids' faces when the Back to School ads start appearing - in the newspaper, on TV, in banners in the stores. I love to see kids taunted by the message wherever they turn.
Here's that message: "Alright you little rugrats! Summer's coming to an end. Playtime's over! Your carefree, lazy days on non-stop video games and non-stop texting your friends and non-stop devouring of groceries like locusts are nearly done. Soon it'll be time to get your butts back in the classroom and learn the periodic table - AGAIN!
"Bwaaahahahaha . . ."
I love the Staples office store commercials showing little kids being dragged like chain gang prisoners through the store while their parents gleefully purchase pens and tablets and 3-ring binders. In my mind I twirl the tip of my Snidley Whiplash mustache and snicker while I see the looks of gloom as moms make their kids try on new shoes and slacks and skirts.
Parents turn the Back to School experience into an annual freedom ritual - freedom from having to find endless activities to keep their kids positively occupied and entertained. Kids act like Back to School signals the end of utopia.
I revel in it all.
I think I feel this way because of my own childhood. August was that part of summer vacation that I could never enjoy. August carried dread of what was to come, and my own mother was the harbinger of that doom.
"OK, you guys," she'd announce to my little brother and me, "Time to go Back to School shopping!" Her voice was always light and airy, as if she were inviting us to have pie. How dare she have such a cavalier attitude at the fast approaching First Day of School?
The clothes shopping was the worst. Every year she would drag us into Junior Towne on Fireweed Lane and we'd spend an eternity trying on pants and shoes and shirts and have to step out of the dressing room and parade up and down the aisle. She'd consult the saleslady and they'd both eye us over like judges in a beauty contest.
"Oh, that's a handsome little man," the salesladies would always say. I would turn into a sack of wet cement and my mother would grab my forearm and drag me erect.
I was in hell.
Shopping for school supplies was a little better. There were always new gadgets to be had: homework binders with cool new fasteners, pencils in disco colors, lunch boxes with so many compartments they were like Transformers. And all that pencil sharpening later at home at least felt like you were doing something fun with a machine. But it all seemed so pathetic when reality snuck back, and a voice in my head said: "You're sharpening these pencils for SCHOOL! Bwaaahahahaha . . ."
Now that I'm mature, I've have a healthy perspective on these traumatic childhood memories. It was only my youthful self-centeredness and self-importance, a normal characteristic that all children possess, and naturally grow out of.
I'm an adult now.
And I don't have to go to school anymore . . . nyah, nyah, nyah!
But you little ankle-biters out there still do! Bwaaahahahaha . . .
Larry Campbell is Executive Editor of the Peninsula Clarion
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