But regardless of where we kids fell on the enthusiasm spectrum of returning to school, my mother was always thrilled when we went back and breathed a heavy sigh of relief that she was once again returning to the structure and schedule the school year gave her. I used to think she was nuts. Now I get it. I love having the kids home more often, and with the absence of homework and projects, there is more free time for fun family things. That being said, I think children do well with a reliable schedule, and it is a fun journey to watch them grow intellectually and hear them when they come home excited to tell me an extraordinary thing they learned in science or history.
If I’m honest, I still get a bit giddy when I take the kids school supply shopping. I loved shopping with my mom for brand new color crayons, folders, pencils, rulers and the like. Yay for a fresh start! We may have been expected to save our scissors, compasses and protractors from the previous year, but each fall meant brand new crayons, and that was a big deal for me.
While my brothers may have been meticulous about the care they took with their baseball cards or comic books, I was fastidious about my crayons. At home, we had a communal coffee can filled with crayons that were broken and the paper wrappers torn off. How was a girl to know if she was using Cornflower or Cadet Blue? And where, oh where, did the Apricot crayon go? I have people to color here!
While my Barbies lay in a heap on my bedroom floor, my school crayons were carefully placed in the safety of my desk and weren’t shared with anyone. I was diligent to only take one crayon from the box at a time. It was put back before I pulled another one. By the time I was in kindergarten, I knew that the factory-appointed place for Burnt Sienna was in the lower left sleeve of crayons, the back row, fourth from the left. Yes, I still remember this. Where my car keys are, I haven’t a clue, but I could pluck the Gold crayon from a box of 64 Crayolas blindfolded.
My husband knows this about me, and so when we purchased Maggie’s first box of 48 crayons and she came home, opened them up and dumped them unceremoniously in a pencil box, he fully accepted my near panic attack. She’s gotten better since then, and each fall she gingerly handles her new box of crayons until she can toss them in her school desk and be free of mom and her crayon OCD craziness.
The school supplies are all purchased. Names are written clearly on the kids’ items. We have spare glue sticks and spiral-bound notebooks at home waiting to be called into action.
Now the only thing left to do to finish back to school preparations is to go gym shoe shopping. I find that back to school shoe shopping must be comparable to the Oklahoma Land Rush. I cling tight to Jack, my youngest, as we navigate the mess of shoes and people and hope he doesn’t get lost in all the hoopla. Hopefully, I’ll be able to stake a claim to two pairs of shoes that have matching mates. Last year I laid claim to the last pair of size 3 pink and glittery tennis shoes my daughter agreed to that fit into the budget, only to find that there was no matching left shoe in a size 3 to be found. The girl working the shoe department offered to set me up with a mixed pair of one size 3 and one size 4. Oh boy.
Good luck to all of you parents with the last minute back to school craziness and enjoy the last bit of summer!