Today’s writing prompt from the Daily Post at WordPress:
As a kid, were you happy or anxious about going back to school? Now that you’re older, how has your attitude toward the end of the summer evolved?
I am a product of New Year’s Eve. I was born in the middle of September. The timing of my birthday adds to the significance of the end of summer and the beginning of the school year.
As a youth, the first day of my school year typically occurred during the first week of September. By then, the scent of autumn usually had been in the air for about a week. For me, the changing of autumn into fall is both visceral and emotional. I’ve always suspected that these feelings might be rooted in the timing of my birth.
For most of my life, I felt something akin to mild depression during the summer to fall transition. I think that this depression might have been a reaction to the way these seasons change where I live. For decades, the period between the autumn equinox and the end of September marked the beginning of the rainy season. The beauty of the fall color on the trees was rarely seen due the fact that the rain turned the tree leaves into drooping mush before they could be admired. In my area, a significant portion of the yearly 226 cloudy days and 140 rainy days would occur beginning the last days of September and continue through the middle of May. The rainy days of late fall and winter are wet, cold and outright miserable. For years, in my mind, fall bode nothing good. It’s interesting to note, however, with the world climate change, the rains of autumn have been arriving later thus the display of fall color has been lasting long enough to be enjoyed.
With school starting during the transition of the seasons, I associated the beginning of school with the death of summer. I looked forward to learning new things in school but I absolutely did not look forward to the social environment. Think of Golding’s book Lord of the Flies and you’ll get a sense of what it was like. That comparison might seem a bit dramatic but it’s closer to the truth than one might expect.
I’ve already mentioned that my birthday falls in the middle of September. It was school district policy that if a child did not meet the required age by a given cutoff date, the child would have to wait a full year before they could start school. I missed the cutoff by ten days; consequently, I was much more intellectually and socially mature than my classmates. When I finally started school, I found myself among a group of children who I felt busied themselves with irrelevant things; engaged in social posturing that was incredibly silly; as whole were pretty much uncivilized. Spending a full school year with them was mind-numbing and stressful; I most certainly did not consider it a positive experience . I was relieved that when I entered college, the short-comings of public school had pretty much evaporated.
As and adult, the beginning of school was always something to look forward to. I enjoy learning so even if a class seemed irrelevant to my major, as well as to life in general, I still found it interesting. The sadness brought on by the seasonal change has lessened, especially now that the transition has been occurring later in the year and the typically lousy weather has been improving. While the transition of summer into autumn will always be significant for me, the change no longer bolsters the perception that my birthday is linked to unhappy things. I’m now at a place in my life where my birthday now reminds me of things that bring me joy.