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Holinger: Back-to-school voices

Late August. After ripping it out twice this summer, you find Creeping Charlie again, strangling the perennials; the garage cleaned in June has reverted to its former chaos; the kids who consumed your waking life the past three months have disapparated like wizard children.

We all come to back-to-school transitions with different things on our minds.

First-time preschooler:

Augh! Mom’s put me in pants stiffer than plastic, then leaves me in what looks like an orphanage. Bye, Mom! Nice knowing you for two and a half years. Thanks for abandoning me!

Hey, wait, a girl named Charlene just asked me to feed the gerbils with her. Take your time picking me up, Mom; I’ve got some picking up of my own to do.


Ohmygosh, I’m in 3-Blue with Audrey and Melinda, but not Denise. I’m so texting her. “Hi D yr in 3 orange but im in 3 blue i want mom to call school to get us back 2gether have yr mom do it 2.”

OK, wait, wait. OK, here’s Denise: “my mom takked 2 them & now im in yr class!!!! so gr8!!!! what lokr r u?”

I write: “218. c u at the pool!!!”


Mr. Wheeler said to write in your journal every day no matter what, so I’m writing about everything that does not matter ha ha.

Just finished my summer reading, “A Long Walk to Water” about Sudan. That’s in Africa. This girl Nya walks about a zillion miles to get water for her family, and this guy Slava walks even farther to escape from rebels who attacked his home. I thought the water fountain down by the gym was a long way off ha ha.

This the kind of stuff you want Mr. Wheeler?


Test on “Lord of the Flies” tomorrow. Started it in June, but lots got in the way, like working at Funway, hanging with Alyssa and the family vacation to Michigan for u-pick blueberries and sand dunes. Better check back in with Ralph, Piggy, Jack and company.

After checking Facebook. And making popcorn. And texting Alyssa.

Hey, this just in, Jason wants to meet at Graham’s for gelato. I’m there.


Finally cutting free of the fam. Gotta say, though, didn’t mind Mom’s spaghetti, Dad’s scrambled eggs and Sis’ chicken salad. Trivia nights were cool. And Charlestowne’s Thursday new movie night, frolf in Wheeler Park, swimming in the Quarry, brats and fireworks on the Fourth, clean laundry and sheets regular as prison and a car to drive but not to fill.

Won’t miss the 24-7 questions, though: “Still seeing Stephanie?” “Who left the empty orange juice bottle in the fridge?” “Do you have to text at dinner?” “Afraid you’ll get arrested for taking out an overflowing recycling bag?”


How long was that summer! Seemed like forever!


How short was that summer! Seemed like a nanosecond!

Everyone take a deep breath. Hold it. Let it out. Now, count slowly up to 176.

• Rick Holinger has lived in the Fox Valley since 1979. He teaches high school in Aurora, and his poetry, fiction, essays, criticism and book reviews have appeared in numerous national literary journals. Contact him at

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