Friday, August 30, 2013

Raiding the Future's Stores

And when August started to disappear,
We wondered what the Future held in store....
-Sam O'Herlihy

I am so old that once upon a lifetime ago - when I was a boy - this weekend heralded the official end of Summer.  A rite of the season was watching the annual Labor Day Regatta put on by the Harvey's Lake Yacht Club.  The inside joke, of course, was that it was not really a regatta.  And the boats involved in it were not really yachts.  Neither of those presumed infirmities ever appeared to diminish the event - at least in my eyes.  People on the water - in their boats - watching fireworks light up the night's sky.  An annual farewell salute to Summer.  We would pack up our stuff and head home to Jersey and back to our regularly scheduled, non-summertime lives.  The locals went back to doing whatever it was they did during the "off-season". 

I understand that nowadays Labor Day no longer heralds the arrival of the new school year.  Now, in fact, school starts for a lot of kids at some point during the final two weeks of August.  While I take no issue with that adjustment for children of a certain age I suppose - high school specifically - no one shall ever be able to explain to me what is so f*cking important that elementary school students need to begin their school year in August.  Is Steven Hawking now part of the curriculum in Kindergarten?  Dr. Sheldon Cooper popping in to lecture the kiddies on "String Theory"?  Thomas Friedman giving a talk on Middle East politics and policy?  

It might just be a residual effect of the fact that I become more and more disagreeable and cantankerous with every passing day but I suspect that the real, unspoken reason that the adults who run the public school education systems throughout these United States have foisted August start dates on the children in their charge is envy.  As a general rule, adults are envious of children.  We envy their energy.  We envy their spirit.  We envy their sense of perpetual, almost omnipresent enthusiasm.  Sometimes we look at them and see not only the promise of what they may become but also the regret of what we may have failed to become ourselves.  

Is this newly-embraced rush to adulthood paying off for us?  For them?  Has the elimination of seven to twelve lazy, fun-filled summer days from their calendar produced more dedicated, more earnest children?  Has it produced more mature, more sensitive and less dickish adults?  Pick up a newspaper.  Turn on your local news.  Decide for yourself. 


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