I saw a horrible sight last week and have seen it several times since.

School supplies are popping up in stores.

It's July, and I do not want to even think about school starting again, and yet, in less than a month, the bell will ring.

I am so old that when I was in school, it was August before I even thought about buying pencils, pens, notebooks and paper.

My kids are old enough that they no longer get excited about new supplies. In fact, they seem to be in denial. I have not heard a discouraging word. Not one complaint, not one "I can't believe summer's almost over," nothing.

This year will be a watershed year in our household. My daughter, Claire, is a senior and will be graduating.

This is her last summer at home as a high school student, and she has made the most of it. Home after midnight, in bed until afternoon, and once in a while we see each other.

It must be her way of helping me prepare for her leaving for college.

Little by little I am learning to live without her being around the house.

Sure, there are signs she lives with us. Notes on the fridge of what to buy for groceries Hot Cheetos and M&M's (plain) dirty clothes in the laundry room, dirty dishes in the sink and long showers.

But a little more than year from now, when she is getting ready to go off to wherever, I'll walk by the chip aisle in the grocery store and have to stop myself from buying Hot Cheetos. I'll still buy the plain M&M's (not for me, just in a tribute to Claire). I will miss seeing her dirty clothes in the laundry room, and my water bill will be cut in half. I'm trying to stay positive.

But for now, I am just regretting the start of school for the normal reasons.

The flip of the calendar means warm weather is eventually heading out and colder weather moving in. Baseball season ends, and the lawn mower is replaced by the snowblower.

Summer is so much more leisurely in our household. There is no worrying about homework and grades and lunch money and needing money for this dance or that project.

If I have a day off, I can sleep in instead of getting up to take my son, Alek, to school because Claire is taking too much time doing her hair, and he needs to be to school early because to him early is on time and on time is late.

That is unlike Claire, who considers early pointless and on time as early enough.

That causes my wife and I to wonder, as all parents with more than one child wonder, if they have the same parents how did they end up so differently?

Just God's way of keeping us on our toes, I guess.

I know we wouldn't want them to be exactly alike, but couldn't they read a clock the same way.

This fight went on all last year, which makes me almost wish for the day Alek turns 16 and we have to buy him his own vehicle. That way I won't have to hear about the morning fights with his sister, I'll just have to worry about two kids with drivers' licenses on the road at the same time with all those other people on the road.

I should have home-schooled them.

Despite my protests, the new school year will be here soon, and it'll be fine. Like all school years, it'll have its ups and downs, good times and bad. Except this one will end for us with a graduation ceremony. I feel like I'm on a roller coaster about to descend from a long climb up. All I can do is hold on and hope everything goes according to plan.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.