O my God, what a wonderful anniversary weekend in the city! This morning, though, we’re home, and no one’s hurrying to fill our coffee cups. We even have to (gasp!) return to work. Yet, OMG, thank You for this big part of the happy ever after.
Hubby and I have just returned from two weeks of camping, aka our vacation. Grateful to return with only 4,271 mosquito bites, I greet my calendar, which features a two-scene 1947 Norman Rockwell print entitled “Going and Coming.”
In the first, a grinning guy showing off a snazzy fedora and big cigar drives a station wagon topped by a boat. His smiling wife holds Little Sister on her lap. Junior and Fido hang out a window. Warm air flaps their ears and ours, and spit hits our windshields as they pass. Big Sis blows a bubble with her gum that could carry her to the lake by air. Little Bro holds his nose, giving the “You stink!” gesture that passed for rudeness during that era. Beside him, Grandma, sitting straight as a general, ignores the little heathens because of her poor eyesight.
At least, that’s the excuse we grandparents give.
In the second scene, the family returns from the beach. Dad sports only a stump of his cigar and bravado. Mom and toddler snooze. Even the boys and dog sit sedately, and Big Sis’s bubble has shrunk to earthbound size. Grandma, still ramrod straight, probably sleeps with her eyes open, a skill she’s perfected during church.
These Rockwell pictures shout their message so loud and clear even art experts can’t mess with it: “Vacation’s Over … Thank God!”
Each spring, epidemic celebrations offer a taste of summer, tantalizing as our first mouthful of strawberry shortcake. We view new territory, thumbing our noses at those less audacious, confident our bubble gum will taste good forever.
By late July, however, we surpass our quota of quality time together, especially in the car. We peel from the sun’s overfriendliness. Sand has made itself at home in cars, carpets and shorts. Kids have grown an extra epidermis comprised of sun block, Popsicle®, and dirt.
Oddly, something deep inside us craves an alarm clock — and regular bath times. We still love barbecues, but a Sunday roast with mashed potatoes and gravy sounds even better. We want our beds, our messy houses and our schedules.
Even messier because of vacations.
In Rockwell’s return scene, Dad will unload the car, including boat, gear, and sleeping children. Mom faces the formidable task of putting the remaining kids — freshly energized by their arrival home — to bed. (A side note: Both scenes feature children who appear entirely too clean. Mrs. Rockwell never would have painted them thus.)
We wouldn’t miss it for anything.
Today, are you coming or going?
I’m excited, though now I’m a spectator. When convoys of buses and SUVs queue up in front of schools and the local parade of backpack-carrying children and stroller-pushing mothers march past, I feel like throwing confetti.
But a crazy lady, hopping up and down, yelling her head off, might scare the kids. Instead, I offer a silent, heartfelt prayer. (That’s still legal, isn’t it?)
Thank you for this opportunity for thousands of children to gain an education.
Many parents wondered if they and their offspring would live to see this day.
The back-to-school sales proved rugged tests. Brave mothers mediated arguments about who-gets-what that made Middle East diplomacy seem easy. Girls tried on 51 pairs of jeans, alternating cell phone consultations with their friends and their parents’ bankers. Little brothers suffered untold anguish when forced to accompany families to Intimate Departments.
By registration, some parents considered mortgaging their organs.
Thank you, Father, for talking them out of it. Thank You for never taking vacations during August, but remaining on the job to help everyone start the school year right.
This first morning hasn’t been easy, though kids jumped out of bed like kangaroos. Showers commenced with a minimum of hot-water controversy. The second-grader even used soap. But the middle-schooler discovered her first zit, and the teen, having spent four hours battling a bad hair day, had to be chained in the SUV.
Earplugs were distributed because of weeping and wailing.
Not the teen’s. The mom’s, because she was sending her youngest to kindergarten.
Who has experienced all of the above, plus planning lessons, decorating and attending group therapy sessions? Teachers, who wonder if their salaries will cover 963 boxes of Kleenex during flu season.
Yet You, Lord, have brought them all to this special morning.
Thanks for Your promise to be with everyone in coming days. New tennis shoes will blacken—by day two. Homework will be eaten by hungry dogs and sneaky computers. Trumpets will be forgotten/broken/hidden, or all of the above. Lesson plans that should soar will crash and burn. Taxi moms will handle schedules that defy the skills of an O’Hare International Airport flight controller.
Amid all these, You are there, Lord—the Father and Teacher of millions. Even recess duty is not beyond Your love and expertise.
You once were a student, so You know exactly how the first day of school feels. The second. And the one-hundred-third.
So as the back-to-school parade marches by, we know You — Who are immortal and invisible — jump for joy on the curb, throwing confetti. Please bless these students, parents, teachers and staff, and give them their best year ever. Amen.
What is your prayer for the coming school year?
O my God, thank You for our weekend in the city. A luxury hotel at a bargain price. Steaks, seafood, Chinese. An incredible symphony performance that made our hearts sing. Now we’re home again. Work. Laundry. And nobody jumps to fill my coffee cup. OMG, so glad You live here, too!
O my God, about that fat raccoon that foraged near our campsite—is he missing the weekend, too? No more free s’mores or yummy charred hot dogs. Back to nuts and wild berries, earned by the smarts and sweat of his furry little brow. OMG, is he praying an OMG, it’s Monday! prayer, too?