It’s that time of year again. If your family is like mine, your kids have seamlessly moved through the three phases of summer:

•  day one: pure joy, Popsicles and cartwheels;

•  days 2 through 59: soul-crushing boredom;

•  day 60 to the end of summer: denial, regret and mounting panic.

This is all without touching their summer reading books. But there’s still time for that — probably 20 minutes before the bus comes.

Yes, it’s that glorious season when your beloved children will soon become, for six hours a day, someone else’s responsibility. That’s not without a price, fellow parents on the journey: First, you must go through the wringer that is known as “back to school.”

There’s something about the days growing shorter that sets off the parent alert in the recesses of our brains. Sometime around mid-August, the terrifying thought creeps in: “Where did I put that school supply list?”

The supply list, in case you didn’t know, is the last vestige of school hazing — which is excusable, given that educators do the heroic task of teaching a room full of other people’s children when they could have picked less stressful careers, like air traffic controller or bomb defuser.

The teacher presents you with the world’s most cheerful introduction letter, coupled with a multi-page list that can only be described as esoteric beyond comprehension. It’s like a scavenger hunt designed by the guy who puts together the New York Times crossword puzzles — in Chinese.

You’ll need these specific notebooks, these specific pencils, these specific folders in 17 different colors — no, not those; they have one pocket, not two pockets! Half of these things, your child will lose by October. The other half will be presented to you, pristine and untouched, the following June when desks are cleaned out. All are essential to your child’s success in this grade.

None of the items are available in one county, let alone one store. Where to find them? A joint novena to St. Anthony (patron of lost objects) and St. Jude (patron of lost causes) is probably in order.

Back to school also means time for new clothes. When I was growing up, my parents were lucky: My siblings and I went through one growth spurt a year, always in July. Clothes would last the whole school year; but suddenly, in August, our toes were poking out of our sneakers like the Hulk and it was clearly time to go shopping.

My children aren’t so accommodating. They have the audacity to grow all year ‘round, but they still make it a point to add an extra six inches of height in July, rendering all those plaid uniforms obsolete, even the ones bought in May.

By now, your credit card bill has to be delivered by UPS and you’ve begun to amass huge piles of notebooks and crayons with each kid’s name on them that they are under strict orders not to touch. Your living room will look like a mash-up of an episode of the TV show “Hoarders” and that time an earthquake hit the Staples store.

Take a breath. You’re nearly there.

Of course, none of this applies to homeschooling families, who usually don’t get a summer break, since the kids are still finishing work in August that should have been done by June.

I once considered homeschooling, but found that building a schoolhouse in my backyard and hiring a teacher would be cost-prohibitive. Then again, if you’re generating the school supply list yourself, you can pack it with items you already own (a garden trowel and a half-full bag of flower seeds: biology class, check!) and send your kids to gather them. Maybe it works out in the end.

No matter the back-to-school madness, enjoy these last days of summer. Get a trip in if you can, even if it’s just to the town pool. Try to take some photos of the kids smiling outdoors so that, when the tides of boredom have receded in their memories, they’ll look back and think, “What a great, fun-packed summer we had!”

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

(Mr. McAvoy attends St. Thomas the Apostle parish in Delmar with his wife, Rosemary, and their four children. For the record, he thinks his children’s school supply lists were not that bad this year — but he’s still looking for where he put them.)