When I was in high school, discipline worked on a points system: one point for being late to class, three points for missing a class (only three? why didn't I do that more?), a point for talking during assembly etc. When you got to nine points you got LOPped -- Loss of Privilege-ed.
I seem to remember being LOPped quite a few times, and I loved it. LOPped meant study hall instead of free period and what I saw as a semi-rebellious status symbol of a creased green piece of paper sticking out of my pocket that I had to get a teacher to sign in each class. Ther were loopholes: librarians that would sign off on your "working" during a free period, lengthy trips to "the bathroom," but I didn't use those much because I loved being forced to sit still. Often, I finished homework. Sometimes I finished novel-length notes to friends; both felt exceedingly productive and luxurious to have space for during school.
Right now I am watching my niece along with Maeve and Silas -- ""watching them" -- they are running somewhere above my head and all I hear are doors opening and closing. Tomorrow I leave for a ten day road trip, and this, right now, is like being LOPped.
I've been carrying around a bag today packed with a book, a journal (my morning pages from The Artist's Way -- it's time to read back through them for insights and action items), a couple of cards to write, and my calendar. And even though the car needs to be emptied and packed, a road trip play list made, and videos checked out from the library, here I am drinking chamomile tea and nibbling chocolate at the dining room table because I can't go home.
The summer has felt like an expanse of time -- wide and long with the end too far off to see. We've had weeks of wonderful freedom, lounging together reading, and weeks when I've felt harried and busy and cursed myself for registering for too many camps. Conversations have been good with kids -- we've had time to have them and think at the same time -- and they are older and emerging in bright relief.
But now it is August. School begins three weeks from today. Every year, for most of the summer, I wonder how I will ever, EVER be ready to relinquish the easy days, the fluid freedom, and having my kids to myself. And every summer, always unexpectedly, August breathes change, and change feels surprisingly possibly. In the woods, little clusters of leaves here and there hang in red bunches, and when the wind blows, an exhale of leaves drifts lazily to the ground. The world readies us with its previews. In every store window, of course, hang backpacks and composition books, huge signs in crayon font and freshly sharpened pencils. This morning we bought school supplies, tissues, ziplock and erasers for the classrooms. We are stepping into change slowly, and tomorrow we will step into the car for a final adventure (and hopefully not all kill Maeve who may or may not be a good team player for hours on end, day after day in the car...almost certainly won't be). In the meantime, I will enjoy this brief moment with three arguing in a tub of bubbles wearing bathing suits and a stormy sky that holds us in, and remember how being LOPped really is one of my favorite privileges.