Monday, August 6, 2012

The Supply List

It's August 6 already.  I know I should be thinking about Back To School, but I can't bring myself to do it.  I don't want to let go of summer yet.  And it seems the more school supplies I let in the front door, the closer it really will be.   But while I was out last week, I thought about shopping for back-to-school stuff just to be safe.  I tried, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  I'm going to be behind the proverbial eight ball on that one.  I've picked up a few things here and there to offset the 100-item lists sent home by teachers on the last day of school.  It's like they want you to know that whatever your teacher this year may have missed will be made up for five times over next year so you better get ready.  I bought a few marble notebooks, because what teacher doesn't love them, and a few packs of pencils, because where would we be without those, and that's about it.  I really want to save everything else for the week that school starts.  Wouldn't that be more fun?  "Oh, look, this is just the perfect size notebook for my science lab and it matches the colors of the chairs in lab too?"  You know what you need by that point.  You know what you're in for and can insulate yourself for the onslaught of knowledge with the perfect padded one-inch binder.   I'm just afraid that the night before school starts my kids are going to look at those lists that I have purposefully neglected and say to me with a look of pure horror, "What? You didn't get me the spiral, reinforced hole, college-ruled, three-hole punched, plastic cover, two-folder notebook with red lines that my teacher asked for?  How could you not?"  I feel like my reply should be "Back in my day, we used charcoal sticks and dried oak leaves, so quit your complaining!"   But in reality back in my day, my grandmother took me into the city to buy a back to school dress and shoes and that was it.  The rest was reserved for the best back-to-school shopping experience a kid could have.  You took your two dollars with you to school in an envelope marked with your name and when your class was called, you lined up single file,  marched down the stairs to the basement, ready to make some critical decisions that could effect your learning for the rest of the year:  To the Stationery Store, where Sr. Ann Patricia would smilingly greet everyone, commenting on how they had grown over the summer, asking about parents and siblings, and then she would step aside with great aplomb and our jaws would drop at the expanse of pencil boxes, shiny notebooks, freshly-sharpened pencils, plump pink erasers, and unblemished folders with the perfect white open space for YOUR NAME, that lined the wooden shelves which reached to the 12-foot ceiling of a dimly-lit closet.   Better than Diagon Alley.  It seemed as if Sister had prepared all summer for our arrival by painstakingly unwrapping and organizing this feast of paperie delight.  Harry Potter's wand-shopping had nothing on the class Stationery Shopping Trip.  It seemed like you might pick the perfect pencil to scribe all your new wisdom in an epistle for all eternity to read!  And Sr. Ann would patiently wait to truly make up your mind.  You thought you wanted blue, but someone else had that already, fine, switch to yellow.  Back to blue again?  No problem.  She was everything of Mr. Ollivander and more.  Those were the days, that was Back-To-School shopping.  I wonder if J.K. Rowling knew about that Stationery Store.

Nowadays, it's skull-covered notebooks and gas-mask folders, anything but what makes learning look like it might be fun.   The pencils are plastic, the crayons don't smell, and no one really uses them anymore anyway.  I've been in classrooms with SmartBoards and Smart Phones and computers galore, but where's the tactile, aroma-therapeutic experience of opening those notebooks the first day and breathing in the freshness of a new school year.  Writing your name in perfect penmanship on the first white page, knowing this could be an epic year. 

So, I am not shopping this week or next.  I'm savoring summer.  I'm not letting it get to me.  After I cleaned out the drawer last week, I found enough colored pencils to draw for at least a few years.   I think we're good.  Maybe I can sneak into that Stationery Store and see if I can find one of those old school notebooks!  (At least I cleaned the rest of the cupboard where all those supplies will go...
I hope you won't blame me for not painting it all cute and really fixing it up.  I just want to pull it all apart one of these days.)

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