Dear August –
Good bye to you, oh bittersweet August. You bring us another month of summer and we love you for that but you also bring shorter days which remind us that summer will be ending. Children, swim suit clad and bronzed, start to lose the spring in their step and the smiles shrink as, somewhere in the backs of their minds, they begin to hear the ring of school bells, feel the weight of school books and feel the splinters of the hard wood chairs on their behinds.
You do have your virtues, sweet August. You are the month that ended World War II. It was in your month, in 1876, that beautiful Colorado became a state. Thomas Edison, kind of Steve Jobs before there was Steve Jobs, invented the phonograph in August 1877. You heralded the end of slavery in Great Britain’s colonies in 1833 and you are the month in which the Washington DC Civil Rights march occurred where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered the great “I Have a Dream” speech to over 200,000 people. The word August itself is beautiful, derived from Latin, meaning “inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic.
Tell me why, then, in your greatness, you provide so much agony. I say that, at least, from the perspective of a child psychiatrist, and, if I may, from the perspective of children. We are lulled to sleep by your cousins, June and July. We are relieved from the pressures of school; from the talk of ADD and homework and needing to sit still and have good behavior, etcetera etcetera, etcetera. We feel better, have fun and get to relax.
Suddenly, like a menacing thundercloud you fill the horizon and the storm of another school year hits and we are left without our umbrellas up. The downpour hits, drenching us with frantic emails, phone calls and letters from school staff and families; drenching children with loads of homework. Afternoons that were filled with calming sunshine, strolling (or running) through the park and drinking cold lemonade are spent working under fluorescent lights, racing to solve problems, and pouring cold water over the fires of stress.
I write this letter to you, August, to avoid any more conflict. I want to enjoy you for all of your greatness and not dread you. Next year will be different. I will tell the children and families I see to enjoy you but be ready for you. We will still have our swim suits and sun tan lotion on, but we will have our umbrellas and rain boots with us. We will have an august summer and be ready for August.
I wish you a good rest for the next 11 months. Good riddance to you, August, but we can’t wait to see you next year.