In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
The Meanings of Late August
Getting ready for the year.
As a kid, late August carried the dread and melancholy of knowing that summer vacation was nearly over. I’m seeing some of that now with The Boy and The Girl.
As a teenager, late August carried a certain relief and excitement. The dreary summer job was ending, and I could get back to school to see my friends. The same held true in college.
In grad school, late August suggested that I could finally get away from the crummy summer jobs that I felt like I should have already aged out of, and get back to the business at hand.
At DeVry, late August didn’t mean anything at all. The “summer” trimester ran from July through October.
For several years, late August meant gearing up for the faculty and students to return, which always generated a new wave of activity. It still does.
But now, late August has another meaning. TB and TG are at the ages at which most weeknights during the school year bring out-of-house commitments: Lego League, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, music lessons, band rehearsals, CCD, and the like. The worst months, in terms of time commitments, are usually September/October and (especially) April/May. Summer vacation brings blessed relief.
September, among its other blessings, brings the return of Chauffeur Season.
I’ve come full circle. The first version of late August melancholy was based on the imminent loss of freedom. This version is based on the imminent loss of time.
In a few years, I’ll look back on this time fondly. This piece by Michael Gerson -- of whom I’m not usually a fan -- actually choked me up a little; TB is getting closer to that age than any of us is willing to admit. In just a few years, late August will mean the imminent departure of TB. At that point, the chauffeuring may not seem so bad.
But we’re not there yet. So I’ll try to enjoy these last couple of weeks before the calendar becomes the stern taskmaster that it always does. Chauffeur Season is as unforgiving as I once imagined the fourth grade would be.
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