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Slices of Life

The end of a disorderly summer

August 25, 2010
Dysart Reporter


Jill Pertler

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss

I came in from the garden the other day to find my house in a state of disorderly conduct. I wasn't surprised; the phenomenon gradually unfolds about this time every year. If the neatness patrol or everything-in-its-place police showed up at my front door they'd never get beyond the entryway. The clutter makes it a physical impossibility. Everything around me is disrupted and disorganized. In a word: unruffled.

Our discombobulation comes, quite naturally, after two-and-a-half months of unencumbered summer. It's a time when beds are not made and shoes are not worn. Hair is not combed. Mealtimes and bedtimes (not to mention homework) are all sweet memories from the past. It's when a swim in the lake often substitutes for a nightly shower, and math is most decidedly a four-letter word.

Now it is August, and the dining room table is covered from corner to corner with 15-cent notebooks, pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, dry erase markers and this year's newest requirements disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. Boxes of new tennis shoes sit atop the mass, permeating the air with every mom's favorite scent: eau de new leather.

The only thing bigger than the dining room's mountain of school supplies is the laundry pile, which morphed out of control sometime around the Fourth of July. Someone needed clean underwear the other day and I outlined the options: go without or borrow from your brother. Unencumbered summer knows no mercy and reaches a welcoming arm out to all. Each member of the family contributes to the chaos in his or her own fashion. Together we make a dastardly mess. Now, as we prepare for the start of school, that mess crescendos to its Augustual finale. We have less than two weeks to get our ducks in a row (or at least get them out of the bathtub), because, my dears, that is when school starts. August becomes September. Desk and teacher assignments are made. Along with hand sanitizer, math and underwear will both be mandatory.

We've got some work to do. Sometime before Labor Day, the little boys need to comb their hair and wash their feet. The necessity of clean feet is well documented, and even has biblical connotations. Jesus was a proponent of clean feet.

The teenagers are fraught with summer reading woes. Paperback classics litter the living room with bookmarks resting somewhere before page 72. My kids have chapters to go before they sleep. Each year I find myself entranced and entrenched by unencumbered summer. In June, a life without rules, homework or timelines feels so good! The bedroom clock stopped working a couple of months ago and I've yet to plug it back in. Hours and minutes matter less during unencumbered summer when, according to my youngest, the correct time is always, "a freckle past a hair."

As ideal and Seussarific as that sounds, September is calling and I must answer. Backpacks need packing, pencils require sharpening and wide-ruled notebooks await distribution.

It won't be long now. The kids will leave for school and things will return to normal (whatever that is). We will serve supper at six. Everyone will sleep in his or her own bed (and they will arrive there on time). We will complete homework assignments with diligence. The Mount Everest of clothing in the laundry room will eventually subside. The order of the disorder will return. It will be good and we will be glad. Sort of. Until next year.

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" at She also offers writing and design services at . Check Slices of Life out on Facebook. Email Jill:



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