Elliott and Margo watch the eclipse.

Margo: What are you going to write about this month daddy?

Me: I’m not really sure yet. Got any ideas?

Margo: Well, this month was actually pretty boring. I mean school started but that’s not very funny. Anyway, make sure it’s good because my teacher reads it.

So now there’s pressure. And let it be noted that writer’s block and a tub of those teeny tiny chocolate chip cookies from Trader Joe’s is a dangerous combination.

Maybe it’s a yawn as far as topics go, but our summer calendar was so jammed up that the start of school felt like a finish line. Our default mode this summer seemed to be chaos cloaked in good judgement. You want a fifth ice pop? Okay, but absolutely not a sixth! A pack of 400 water balloons? Sure, but no throwing them in the living room after 11 p.m.!

I suppose it was time to harness the anarchy. It seemed a tad draconian at the time, but a week of going to bed at an hour that would still require SPF 30 really worked wonders. Since then, screen time has been limited, we’re reading on a nightly basis again and the vegetables—lo the vegetables that have been consumed! We go to bed so early that I’m practically a legit member of the 5 a.m. YMCA crowd now instead of an occasional interloper. I’m sure as soon as we reach Fall break or the next time the WWE network replays the Summer Slam the unraveling will begin, but for now I’m sort of marveling at the household machine.

Both kids have been in between sports seasons, too, so there haven’t been the routine-killing, weekday practices to muck things up and the weekends haven’t been completely dictated by game schedules. Don’t get me wrong, youth sports are sort of my jam. I genuinely enjoy them, plus it allows me to pretend that if only I didn’t have all these games to go to I would be soooo productive.

Like last Saturday I found myself with a few free hours where it seemed I ought to go to a hardware store and you know, home improve. Only I’m not terribly handy. So whenever I go to one of those places I try to project the image of a guy who already finished a miter saw project in the morning and now just needs some light bulbs. I have a high degree of comfort in the light bulb aisle. Then I just wander around and check out the welcome mats and potted plants.

But I have the gnawing feeling that I should have accomplished more with my fleeting free time. Flag football and soccer starts back up for the kids this week and the no-homework honeymoon seems about over. I’m antsy that I’ll never again have the opportunity to stain the front porch or make a few phone calls. At the very least I need to carefully assess my rusty leisure skills. We parents become so conditioned to cranking out tasks that when spots of free time present themselves we’re wholly unprepared. It’s like a vortex we’re unsure about exploring. I mean I could have gone to the pool but if I bring the kids it is no longer leisurely and if I don’t I feel like a weirdo. Somehow once school starts the pool feels passe anyway.

I guess a full solar eclipse is a pretty once-in-a-lifetime way to close out a boring month. We gathered up the kids early from school to watch the moon obscure 97.3 percent of the sun as a family. We thought about driving to the mountains to see totality, but since this city has a penchant for once-in-a-lifetime traffic events, I didn’t want to risk it for 2.7 percent. Besides, Elliott had football practice at 6.

Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at tim@sullivanfinerugs.com.