It’s back to school time again. Which means we’re busy with new shoes, haircuts, medical forms, doctors’ visits, new clothes, and trying to remember where I stuck that school supply list they gave us at the end of last school year.
It’s also time to bid adieu to the easy-living, sleep-in days of summer, which is a little sad. We had a great summer, with blankets spread on the grass under shady trees, picnics, reading books outside while enjoying a cool breeze, chalk on the sidewalk, bike riding, moon gazing through the telescope, splashing in the kiddie pool, digging in the sandbox, and turning our tongues purple and red from lots and lots of popsicles.
I was also busy this summer with CLE classes—Continuing Legal Education—to keep my law license current. That might not sound like everyone’s idea of fun, but I’ve got an inner lawyer that’s been hibernating for awhile while I’ve been raising kids, and it was fun to let him wake-up a little and stretch his stare decisis sinews and argument-making muscles. It got me excited about the future.
Which is great, until anticipation for a bright new tomorrow starts causing us to lose sight of today.
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Which is one of the really good things about the impending start of a new school year: it’s a great catalyst for returning attention to the here-and-now.
St. Francis de Sales said that we must take care lest “great desires for absent things . . . divert our minds from present things . . .” Introduction to the Devout Life, Third Part, Section 37 “On Desires.”
In his wonderfully evocative style he said:
In imagination we often do battle with monsters in Africa. In the meanwhile for want of vigilance we let ourselves be slain by little serpents that lie in our path.
And the chores that go into getting ready for a new school year are a reminder that there is only a short window of opportunity to address the tasks called for as I walk this path in this season of life. Like when the kids were trying on clothes to see what still fits and what we need new, and I was shocked at how last year’s leggings have become this year’s capris. You become aware of just how fast these kids are growing, and realize that the future is getting here plenty quick all on it’s own, thank you. It’s the present that needs tending to before it races away forever.
And there is still so much to teach these kids, so much work to be done as a father right now.
The start of the new school year has been a great energizer to get refocused and re-motivated for parenting in the present. Even though I’m already missing summer and don’t want to let it go just yet, it’s also an exciting time. With new shoes and a new backpack, everything seems possible. It’s a new beginning, and new beginnings are a great time to get priorities back in order.
Copyright 2016 Jake Frost
About the Author
Jake Frost is an attorney, husband, and father of four grade-school aged kids. He’s the author of five books: Catholic Dad: (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; Catholic Dad 2: More (Mostly) Funny Stories of Faith, Family, and Fatherhood; From Dust to Stars: Poems by Jake Frost; Victory! Poems by Jake Frost; and a children’s book he also illustrated called The Happy Jar.