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The End of Summer, The Beginning of Labor

  • Posted on September 6, 2011 at 6:02 PM

According to the equinox, summer doesn’t end in the United States until September 23, but the boys have already had their first day back to school.  Then, they had three days off before resuming their normal school schedules today (Tuesday).  Monday was Labor Day, where we celebrate “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.”  This holiday also marks the unofficial end of summer.

Labor Day started in 1894 after the deadly Pullman Strike.  I must admit I have mixed feelings about such a celebration.  On the one hand, recognizing the mistakes we’ve made (like the military killing civilians exercising their freedoms) is one thing; if that were common knowledge then it would be all for the good.  On the other hand, requiring everyone to essentially put their lives on hold for a day to honor the power of a specific group of political activists is not something I really support, especially when the creation of such a holiday was politically motivated.  It would be like the difference between Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the day we honor his contributions to our society by recognizing his birthday (sort of), and Affirmative Action Day, which would honor the political success of a particular collection of special interests; or like the difference between Memorial Day, where we honor the sacrifice of the service men and women who have given their lives in defense of this country, versus Pentagon Day, where we would honor the clout the Pentagon has in shaping the federal budget and our foreign policy.  So, all things considered, I’d rather remember the many mistakes we’ve made—in the hopes of not repeating them—by keeping the disastrous Pullman Strike in living memory instead of honoring the self-interest of the labor organizations.

Nevertheless, Monday was Labor Day, which marks the end of the crazy days of summer and the commencement of more regular workdays.  Many families—especially families that rely on the supports available throughout the school year—have two different sets of routine: school routines and non-school routines.  I wouldn’t want the school routines to go all year long, because the boys do need the freedom of the summer.  But, there’s also something very beneficial to the increased structure of school time.  For them, some of both is good; though the nature of the summer holiday seems a bit too much of a good thing sometimes.

For me, my productivity tends to go down in the summer.  Not only do I have extended periods where the boys require my attention, I also have the increase in volume when they’re home.  And it’s a big increase of volume.

Whether the boys are above me or outside the window, their play tends to be loud.  Loud and my ears don’t like each other.  So, my concentration goes down, my expendable time goes down, and betwixt the both of them, my productivity goes down.

Of course, my work-life is designed to accommodate my family’s need for flexibility, so that’s not a problem.  Life gets busy, and I slow down at work.  Life gets slow, and I speed up.  The give-and-take works for me.  But now it’s time to change gears and get to work, making up for “lost” time and all of that.  So, here’s to Labor!