Those big yellow buses are on the roads now that school is back in session.

I think I dislike the return of the school year as much as the kids do, but for slightly different reasons.

For the kids it marks the end of their summer freedom. Gone are the lazy, hazy days of sleeping late and playing all day. Back are reading, writing and arithmetic, homework and early to bed, early to rise. For me, the return of school marks the end of summer, a season I hate to see pass.

I remember that when I had school-aged children back to school was a mixed bag of emotions. I was thrilled to get them back into a routine and not having to hear “I don’t have anything to do.”

I wasn’t thrilled with the price of clothing and supplies. The reality was that most of the “good” clothes they had in the spring would not fit them in the fall. Without fail, one or both of the kids needed new shoes in May and without fail those new shoes either would not fit or would be falling apart by September.

At least when my kids were kids, shoes were just shoes. There were no athletic shoes, cross trainers, walkers, joggers or running shoes. There were hard shoes for dress and sneakers for gym and play and not a lot of variety in those.

I certainly don’t envy parents of today that expense. Even unbranded shoes are fairly expensive, but kids, my grandsons included, seem to think their lives won’t be worth living if they don’t have the right swoosh or logo on their athletic shoes.

I am absolutely astounded by the price of these big brand name sneakers (yes, I call them sneakers). They run $60 and up to more than $100 for a darn pair of sneakers! No matter what you pay for the stupid things the kids are still going to outgrow them or wear them out in a matter of months. Especially those youngsters who seem to think their feet are brakes to stop their bikes, scooters and skateboards.

Clothing and school supplies don’t give parents much of a break either. Even the discount department stores can get pretty pricey.

I know it was a very long time ago, but back in my day we got one new outfit or dress for the first day of school, a couple of blouses if we were lucky, a new pair of shoes, underwear, socks and a pencil box. The pencil boxes contained a couple of pencils, a pencil sharpener, an eraser, a short ruler and one of those half-circle-shaped thingies that no one ever used.

Do they even have pencil boxes any more?

In elementary school I was a “walker” and went home for lunch, so I didn’t have a lunch box. In the higher grades I took lunch in a paper bag. I also covered my books with paper bags. Now they actually have vinyl covers to buy.

There’s quite a variety of lunch boxes, as well as insulated lunch bags, which are actually a good idea. They may cost a lot more than paper bags, but I think they’re pretty practical.

What isn’t practical is having kids tote so many books and things in their backpacks that we’re raising a generation of youngsters with back and neck problems. And, a good sturdy backpack is another expense that parents have to deal with each year.

Things sure have changed a lot since I went to school or, for that matter, since my children went to school. I hope the changes are for the better, but I have some serious doubts about that.

It’s tough enough for kids to face going back to school, and it’s very tough for their parents, but the way I see it a good education should count for something. And there is always next summer to look forward to for the kids … and for me.