temp check.

September 8, 2021

I’m having my yearly run-in with September allergies and accordingly have convinced myself no fewer than three times this week that I’ve lost my sense of smell and have been stricken with that-which-shall-not-be-named. It’s like the recurring dream that I had in high school, where it was opening night for a play and I’d forgotten to memorize my lines, except that I’m awake and instead of fearing a lack of preparedness, I’m fearing a real-life pandemic and its continued ability to wreak absolute havoc.

I took the last week off from this work. I deleted Twitter from my phone. I went days without opening Instagram. I didn’t glance at my email inbox. James was recovering from a minor but slightly less-than-straightforward surgery and so with three kids buckled into the back of the old station wagon we now call ours, I barreled up to Vermont for a quick hit of cousins and cows and lily ponds. It was glorious and exhausting.

James is back on campus this week for the first time since February 2020. He returned to a time capsule covered in a layer of fine dust. On the wall above his desk he found print-outs of a newly minted three-year-old and a kindergartener just learning to ride a two-wheeler and no pictures at all of the baby who hadn’t been born and is now marching herself into daycare.

Next week Faye starts second grade. Her primary fear is not finding a pair of sneakers to satisfy her various requirements for wear. My primary fear is a school year marked with the same chaos and confusion we struggled through last year. We’re starting things off with a missing water bottle and a lunchbox still in Vermont and everyone wearing an unruly selection of ill-fitting shoes, stinky from sweat and summer, but I’ve decided to take it all as a good omen. What we’re lacking in newness, we’re making up for with familiarity. We’re finding comfort in September’s skies; bright blue and cleared from overbearing humidity; comfort in Monarch butterfly sightings and honey bees hovering around September trash cans; comfort in bike rides before dinner. We have notes from new teachers and classroom supply lists and eventually, I trust, we’ll get those pencils sharpened and those laces tied.

How about you?

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  • Reply Sus September 8, 2021 at 3:15 pm

    Same same! I am surrounded by that-which-shall-not-be-named and every time I have coffee, I think that I have lost my sense of taste. Have to take a deep breath, remind myself that fall allergies are of the devil. Then I go to the campus free testing center just in case.

  • Reply Erika September 8, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    I was talking through my anxieties with “that which shall not be named” with my therapist, and walking through it is really hard. Because for the most part, those fears could actually be reality (unvaxxed family members getting severely ill, preK canceled in person for more than my sanity can bear)- trying to elevate the good over here, and making an activity jar for when we are home this year- because it will happen, and hoping the surprise activity on a slip of paper will lighten the mood.

    Good luck finding the perfect sneakers! I think that’s your real challenge.

  • Reply Megan September 8, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    Negative tests after a scare and just finished celebrating a first birthday in our house. It was sweet with just our family of four, but I’m hoping the second birthday (and possibly third for an older sister in the winter) can be filled with family and friends. But loving the transition into autumn not in a fourth trimester haze. This is my favorite time of year ✨

  • Reply riye September 8, 2021 at 5:27 pm

    Your plate always sounds so full. Glad you got to take a sanity break. 🙂

    Things here are chaotic. We got tested 3 times for covid (negative each time) due to the carelessness of random acquaintances. Really frustrating. Time off was not restful due to visiting close friend and just-started-college aged daughter who were not on the same page. Overwhelmed on all projects at work. BUT. We’re all healthy and gainfully employed (plus ZOOM yoga!) so I’m taking baby steps to reclaiming my sanity. I’m calling any small bit of progress good. We’re getting there!

  • Reply Judith September 8, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Ahh, the first day of daycare was a tough one for my Brooklyn beloveds. Daddy did the drop off and I can attest that he cried more that day than he ever did on his own first day of daycare.

    Speaking of memories, your photos from Vermont brought back a powerful one for me. The summer of my 17th year, I went on a bike ride with American Youth Hostel. One hostel was in Putney and was run by a hippie couple — kids running around the place naked. It was all very groovy. I haven’t thought about that in a long time.

    Finally, do let us know what footwear Faye settles on as I like to be a grandma who is “with it.” Hoping for a less chaotic school year for all of us.

  • Reply Cor September 8, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    Preparing to leave my oldest in the hands of the NYC DOE when she starts her first day of pre-k next week. All sorts of flutters and anxieties but summer has been LONG and I’m feeling okay about calling it a wrap. Hoping these kiddos can have a decent year and hoping to regain a portion of my sanity.

  • Reply Jess September 8, 2021 at 9:46 pm

    I have a similarly shoe-picky kiddo and the times I have searched high and low and finally bit the bullet on the perfect pair only to have them arrive and be instantly deemed too [insert category here] or not enough [impossible quality here]! It is vexing. I only feel calm about it because now I’ve seen at least three once-rejected pairs of shoes turn into “oh I love these” after a bafflingly inconsistent length of time (one day? Two weeks? A year?!). Sending good-shoe-wishes your way, from a new reader.

  • Reply Brigid September 9, 2021 at 1:11 am

    Shoes, man! SHOES. Just go barefoot, child! One kid steals everyone’s shoes but her feet are pizza-shaped and sensitive, and the other kid has easy-to-fit feet but hard-to-please eyes.

    After hours of debate I bought these in other colors and reckon the wee’uns will be pleased: https://pedterra.com/collections/all/products/froddo-barefoot-canvas-sneaker-pink-flowers?variant=40369605705903

  • Reply Liza September 9, 2021 at 5:27 am

    I just started Flonase. Give it a try. I’m a teacher and can’t have allergy symptoms at work and this does the trick.

  • Reply Kim L September 9, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    It has been a looong summer. Hotter than usual and very busy with two under six and all the pressures of social gatherings, vacations and making the most of the season that is usually the shortest here in Vancouver, Canada. I must admit I feel a sense of relief heading into the fall notwithstanding the so-called “4th wave” of the you-know-what. I’m looking forward to cooler days, family movie time and getting back into the kitchen and not worrying about turning on the oven and overheating. All the best while your family transitions into new routines and finding those shoes. My daughter specifically requested a pair of sneakers that aren’t “too fat” so she can wedge her foot into tight spaces while climbing who-knows-what.

  • Reply Carol Wayne September 9, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    Allergies…I find it so weird that the very stuff of life..pollen..makes one sick.

    Also, your lovely note book?? Brand??

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE September 9, 2021 at 2:13 pm

      My notebook is from Appointed!

  • Reply Jen September 9, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Another hand raised for going bare feet! But when they’re a must, my kids in the velcro Splays. They are very thin soled so you won’t be able to pass them down over and over, but they’re affordable for minimal/barefoot shoes. https://splayshoes.com/collections/kids-shoes/Kids

    Good luck with the new transitions, we’ll all need it!

  • Reply Elise September 9, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    I feel you on the allergies! Have you tried goldenrod tea or honey? Can work wonders for sniffles.

  • Reply Kate September 9, 2021 at 9:52 pm

    I used to love those school supply lists: more as a kid than as a parent. I did my primary schooling in a central Queensland mining town and we’d drive for two hours to a town with shops that stocked uniforms, school supplies and new school shoes. Now I’ve raised four children – and through some lean times – I marvel at what a privilege it was to have those things new every year. There would have been many around me for whom that was not the case, and I never really noticed as a kid. What I did notice was those kids who were brave enough to climb the highest monkey bar and swing across it without a care. That was not me, but how I wished it was.

  • Reply Jess September 13, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    Erin! I’ve messaged you and commented on your post about this on Instagram…tell us more about this Volvo! You’re killing me! It’s my dream car and I want to know the entire story. I’m just hoping for a good long post on here at some point that tells the story of your amazing new car. Stop leaving us hanging!
    LOVED this post. Bets of luck and, as we say in France, Bon courage! To you and this wonderful community. School starting this year is no small feat.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE September 14, 2021 at 9:10 am

      No big story to tell! We wanted to find an old Volvo or Mercedes station wagon and found this one through Craigslist! It’s not in perfect shape, but it’s good enough for us!

  • Reply -Heather September 15, 2021 at 10:28 am

    As a person who grew up with a dad who kept peaceful honey bees, I like to make sure bees aren’t given a bad rap.
    Usually honey bees don’t want anything to do with trash cans. It’s likely, and especially at this time of year, that you’re seeing yellow jackets. Yellow jackets, which also harass picnickers, are more aggressive than bees and can sting multiple times without damage to themselves. Bees typically sting once and only in self/hive defense and they die very soon after their one stinger pulls out their innards. Gross… but true.

  • Reply Cornelia September 23, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    thank you for this work you do in these posts, finding poetry in the everyday, it inspires me to do the same!

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