Taryn Lawson

“Back to school” season is one of those things that looks different to different people.

Maybe you’re four, like my son, and heading off to preschool for the first time. You’re excited, because you’re always excited, because you haven’t the foggiest idea what’s going on, or what’s about to happen to you, or just how long you are going to be expected to sit still. Man, those were the days. If only we’d have realized then that this was our first, last and likely only shot at an institutionally sanctioned nap. If only all I were expected to carry around now was a box of graham crackers and a change of clothing.

Or perhaps you’re a preteen, huddled up in your bedroom, dreading the whole ordeal. Farewell, late bedtimes. Au revoir, summer fun. Hasta luego, prepubescent bedroom huddling. It’s back to the classroom, and navigating various social messes that mean considerably less, in the long run, than you think they do. Seriously, guys, you can’t imagine how little they mean. Just be nice.

And maybe you’re about to start college, or vocational school. Those things are a little different, because they tend to be exactly what you make of them. You’re an adult now. Do what you wish. Wait for the consequences. Analyze. Adjust. Repeat. Best of luck with the napping.

Or, maybe you’re sending someone off to college, armed with only a set of bedding, a laptop and all you’ve taught them. They’re an adult now, they’re going to act as they wish, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. I have to stop writing about this, I’m eight years away from this day and still getting nauseous at the thought...

But to me, right now, it looks like this:

I was heading north on Ohio 66 Friday morning, on my way out of town, for no better reason than I wasn’t quite ready to go to work. There was some commotion up ahead — a stopped semi and motorcyclist, and flurry of...something in the roadway. Turns out, they were turkeys, but not just any turkeys: turkeys with absolutely no interest in getting out of the road. Turkeys with zero sense of self-preservation. They were flittering around in circles, tearing something to shreds, making whatever sound it is a turkey makes. And immediately, I thought to myself:

You could transplant this entire raucous flock of wild birds into my living room, and I doubt they could cause the same amount of damage my children do when they’re home together during the summertime.

Yes, ladies and gents, I’ve reached the sweet spot. The small window of time when this back-to-school scenario is a truly wonderful thing.

Hindsight being what it is, I often wish I could travel back in time, find myself at these different stages, and offer some advice. And by “offer some advice” I mean grab past-Taryn’s face and plea some sense into her. I’d tell preteen Taryn that the girl teasing her about needing to loosen up is going to wind up serving a hefty jail sentence for those free-and-easy ways. Then I’d zip forward a little and tell college Taryn to loosen up... On second thought, I’d probably just confuse her...

Or, maybe you’re past all this. Maybe your children have done it, and their children too, and now “back to school” means little more than remembering to avoid certain streets during certain times of the day. This may be a little presumptuous, but I have some advice for you, too: have a nap!

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