Back to school shopping


I put the composition book up to my nose, flipped through the pages, and took in the inky smell of the paper. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a Target store worker round the corner and quickly pulled the notebook down and back on the shelf.

Before moving onto the next aisle, she let out a slight smirk and said: “Oh don’t worry about me, I love the smell of school supplies too.”

I raised my right hand to no one in particular, guilty as charged.

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First day of school

I love everything about this time of year: the temperature in Southeastern Pennsylvania starting to cool in the evening; kids whining about going back to school, teachers readying for the first day of school; and my wife and I looking through the lengthy school supply list to see what we need to buy for our son to help him get prepared for the upcoming year.  (Heaven help us if he needs a special Geometry calculator and we have to make a mad dash for that one calculator that everyone else has already stocked up on.)

I especially love searching for the perfect notebook. The obsessive compulsive in me loves the crisp, clean paper. I search for the best notebook in the bin. It will be college ruled paper with perforated edges, each page a new start, all in order, all in a line. The achiever in me loves the notes that will be taken and the papers that will be written.

I love the other supplies too, blue gel pens that look like the ink is going to jump off the page and fine mechanical pencils that leave no muss, no fuss, just a thin black line. Staplers, notecards, folders, backpacks, scissors, glue, I could go on and on, I love it all.

Getting in the Back to School Spirit:

Everything has its place

I especially love the order of the season: everything having it’s season, everything having it’s place. I used to love coming home the first couple weeks of school, getting seated at my desk or even on my bed and filling up my academic calendar with football games, cross country practices and meets, weekend trips, etc., etc.

I would fill-in everything that I knew was going to happen. I loved the anticipation and planning. I felt like I was an explorer mapping out a new territory, in my case mapping out my weekends. Oh, I didn’t care much for the actual school work. In fact, I hated the work. I wouldn’t love school until much later in my life, but I loved the order of the season. I loved the plan.

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First day jitters

My two oldest children are off to college now. I’m down to my last child. My youngest son starts up high school next week. When I asked him if he was excited about the first day of school and if he wanted to go shop for school supplies, I got a blank stare. He’s excited to shop for new clothes, but school supplies, forget it. Like any good father or at least what I’m told a good father does nowadays, I tried to probe. I thought maybe he might be nervous about starting over at the bigger high school. Of course, when I asked him again, he simply laughed at me. I’m taking that as a good sign.

With my school days long gone — yes I’m still learning, but I’m done with idea of school as we know it — I thought my school shopping days might be over too. However, I still walked out of  Target with a brightly colored notebook.

I might not need to write a ten page paper comparing and contrasting the presidencies of Ulysses S. Grant to Dwight Eisenhower or a page of Math homework anytime soon, but I still need something to jot down our grocery list . . . milk, bread, toilet paper.

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