Monday, August 22, 2011

What do you mean, no school supplies?

So it occurred to me today that this marks the first year in very, very many that I have not purchased school supplies.

I love school supplies. I love the way they smell. I love the way they look stacked up neatly, with folders at the bottom, then binders, then notebooks, then pencil box, then markers and crayons. I love the sense of promise they convey: "It's a new year! Last year may have sucked, but who cares? Start over! Your folders have horses and hearts and purple bicycles on them; anything is possible."

My kids are still in school, but they're a senior and junior in college now, and for some strange reason, each felt perfectly comfortable going out alone or with friends to buy his or her classroom necessities. I may have been asked to replenish spent money, but my opinion wasn't sought on college-rule-versus-narrow-rule paper or 1 1/2- versus 2-inch binder.

I know my kids, though. Scott's new supplies almost certainly consist of a black spiral notebook, a gray or black binder and a pack of Bic pens. Caroline's undoubtedly include many notebooks and pens in complementary colors, patterned folders, a black binder for chorus, and maybe a set of mechanical pencils. Perhaps she'll throw in a planner or one of those big organizers.

When my kids were little, school-supply shopping was a big deal. We'd grab the list from meet-the-teacher day and head out immediately, spending at least an hour at Target to search for just the right scissors and ruler and Trapper Keeper and Spice Girls or Power Rangers backpack. We'd cap the trip with a lunch at the little restaurant in the Merle Hay Dahl's -- best burgers ever, to this day -- and then we'd go home and organize everything.

And the piles would sit on the living room couch until the day before school, when we'd transfer them to backpacks in anticipation of the rumble of the bus the next morning. And I'd take pictures of the kids every year as they stood at the bus stop, neat and shiny and full of anticipation, with those new backpacks hanging just-so off their right shoulders. For years, Caroline was so small that her bag reached almost to her knees.

This year, they're living in an apartment and a sorority house and spending hundreds of dollars on books. They have to organize themselves, so I'm sure they knew what to buy, supply-wise ... I'm sure they had a list to follow, or at least an email or something. I'm sure their supplies are complete, their backpacks are organized, and they're ready to go. I'm sure they don't need my input...

But maybe I'll just call, just once, and remind them not to forget the Kleenex. In my opinion, the economical three-pack is always best.

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