It always started just after the Fourth of July. The incessant thrum-thrum-thrumming of what are correctly termed cicadas, but what my family, in honor of John the Baptist, called locusts. (Although we never ate them with honey. Or without.) “Hear that?” my dad would query my older brother and me. “That’s the sound of school about to start.”

If you think that’s a cruel statement for a father to make during the peak of summer fun, you think correctly. But as it was the cruelest thing my dad ever said to me, I’ve let it slide all these years. Besides, he was right. It would only be a week or two later when the back-to-school ads for Toughskins, Trapper Keepers and other pseudo-implements of pseudo-education would break the joy of “A-Team” and “Manimal” reruns. Then the shopping would commence, new iron-on shirts would be purchased (the lone good thing about the encroaching internment) and before we knew it, we were back at the bus stop waiting for ol’ number 43 to rumble down Masterbrooke Drive.

You would think (yeah, you would think, wouldn’t you?) that I would’ve liked the return of school days, if for no other reason than that it heralded the arrival of Birthday Season. As in my birthday. Which is September 18 in case you’d like to get me a Triumph Bonneville (don’t tell my wife). Sure, I was always excited about my birthday. What kid isn’t, aside from that weird boy up the street who kept feeding Pop Rocks and Diet Rite cola to woodchucks? But I did not equate another school year with birthday bounty.

No, I reasoned that school should either wait until after my birthday to begin (yet before my brother’s birthday a week later), or I should be able to legally change my birth date to August. Of course, I also once believed the world was black and white before the 1950s, so my logic may have been a touch off. Regardless, I was able to separate the two events in my mind: School bad, birthday good.

I don’t really even know why I disliked school so much. I was a good student. I rarely found myself on the wrong side of a shiv. And I only once ended up in a gang-related dance-off set to Wham tunes instead of Sondheim – the donnybrook abruptly ended when both sides decided no one wanted to wake up anybody before they went went. Perhaps my ambivalence towards primary and secondary education stemmed from my belief that I could’ve compressed the entire 13-year slog into about three. While I may have missed a certain amount of socialization following such a plan, anyone who knew me in my twenties or thirties (which is now) could tell you whatever socialization I did receive didn’t really take. My life is one long awkward stage.

But now that I’m on the far, far, far side of my school days (’87 thinks they’re cool! ’88 will never rule! When ’89 is dead and gone, 1990 will party on!), I generally can’t wait for school to resume. There’s just something about knowing book-learnin’ is afoot that puts a jingle in my jangle. Or, more precisely, my iJangle 4.0.

I’ll no longer have to fear the roving bands of 12-year-old trash can turner-overers that stalk my alley. The malls won’t be swollen with gaggles of inappropriately bedazzled, hot-panted prostitots. I won’t have to worry about speed traps because the coppers will be gunning (only with radar, unfortunately) texters in school zones.

But I also look forward to a new school year because, as a person of fatherly age, it is now my turn to harass the youthy youths of today. What, with they’re pants on the ground and hippity hop and spray-on tans and “Twilight” sagas and flibberty-gee, they’re ripe for the taunting. Also, they need to stay off my lawn. Seriously, kids, it’s chock full of fire ants. And pressure-sensitive sprinkler heads. That shoot lasers. Tiny lasers mounted atop even more fire ants. Honest.

My eldest children, highly advanced though they are, will not be allowed into the kindergarten until 2013 (and into the Biebergarten never), at which time they will learn the true reason why I’ve been feeding them paste since birth. A reason I will not disclose here lest they read the secret before the appointed time and set in the motion the rise of the Third Cyrus. They will also learn why dad hasn’t been allowed to talk to the neighbor kids since 2009.

It might have something to do with honey-seared locusts.