Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Notebook Paper and Denim

I have tried to revisit in my mind the mental bookmark that segregates for me the beginning of my love affair with all things supply related. There is no watermark moment, no recalled genesis, no hallmark memory. I can simply remember that as long as I can remember, I have loved school supplies.

As a young child, we would head to Ronnie's Supermarket and pick up our supply list off the aisle end cap - that supply list having been typed on an old manual typewriter and run off via carbon paper. Remember that lovely cornflower blue ink? We would carry our supplies proudly home in big sturdy brown paper bags, lay them all out on the floor, carefully label them, and then, almost in a manner reserved for crown jewels, place them back inside the same brown bag where they would hold revered status until the bell rang on the first day of school. 

And we would carry them in to class in that same brown bag. $50 backpack? Not necessary. We were above knowing we needed one. And all year long, I took careful time with my supplies - never one to want to sharpen my crayons and face the jagged edge of the torn paper for the rest of the year, never one to mix colors of paint on the plastic palette, never one to just throw them at day's end into my desk. No sirree - I coddled them for the year, knowing that what was left over was mine to keep and could then be added to my private stash back at home.

And what were summers for, but playing school? As I think back on the cool of the mornings in the gulf summer heat, I am amazed to think that we played school in a garage with a door that never opened. We cleared a space and set up a desk area for 2-3 students, and we rotated who was teacher and who was student, using up our supplies left over from the grade we just finished, which, if we were lucky, included some extra worksheets that we never needed in "filler time". I loved playing school. I loved school. I loved the whole spectrum of it, the supplies just being the easiest outward manifestation, the one constant as you changed teachers and campuses. Give me a new pack of 64 crayons and watch me transcend time.

Fast forward to my early 30's, and see me with two young sons, and a corner in an upstairs retreat where we had craft supplies and a little oak table with 2 chairs. {Don't think I didn't wish I had that table and chairs back in the '70's in my garage!} We did arts and crafts with the boys as early as they could manage to move their fingers around on a piece of paper. I have piles and piles of childhood art around here, mocking me with its presence. I refuse to let it go just yet!

And read, oh, would we read. Many times it would be the same book over and over. I never knew the full measure of my husband's patience until the year that my oldest child asked him to read the same Dorling Kindersley bulldozer book every night. Now, these were photos of all kinds of machines, with descriptions of their name and purpose. No story here - just a machine encyclopedia if you will. Philip wore that book ragged and heaven help us if bedtime came and the bulldozer book was needing to be unearthed. 

Preschool time came around too soon for the boys and I, I guess. I don't know if it was the fashion of the day, or the fear of letting them go, or their desire to soak up everything and learn from me all I would impart...but some combination of any of that led me to a stint with homeschooling. I was not cut out for it. The boys were not cut out for it. Thankfully we all had sense enough to recognize that early on. What I remember fondly about the experience, though, are all the workbooks we bought and how fun it was to set up a school room in my own home for my sons, and see their little heads bent over that blonde oak table, pursuing the completion of some little assignment. This was definitely a new definition of school supplies for me!

When the boys began kindergarten, we lived in the valley at the very southern tip of Texas. Borders blended and societies merged, and all of the stores of McAllen served not only the citizens of McAllen, but also the needs of any visitors over from Mexico, in pursuit of goods not available to them at home. Translation: buy it when you see it, because it won't last long. I learned early to guess at what you needed, and buy extra, because by the time the teacher told you it was on "the list", it would no longer be on the shelves. 

We had one Target in town, south of our home, towards the border. You needed to go early in the morning for it to be clean, for the checkout lines to be tolerable, for the aisles to be maneuverable. There was no way, in this border town, I would ever even consider going in to the Walmart. No way. Target was my only option. So, when they set out the school supplies, we were there. The boys would pick out their folders, their spirals, their crayons, their map pencils, their scissors, their rulers, their pencils, their pens.

It was always so much fun to see the choices, to revel in the colors, to mark this year's trends based on the images on all the supplies. It was entertaining to watch them consider the choices, as if they were selecting a house or a car, weighing all the options, importing onto the array of supplies a value far beyond the price tag, ensuring they ended up with an assortment that did not match their brother's. No copy cats here! Get that individuality captured! The buggy would fill and we would head home with our new round of treasures. 

I will 'fess up. There were usually 1 or 2 or 7 things in the buggy for me as well. My husband learned early on that my brain requires an assortment of note pads, post-it notes, pens and spirals. Just because. After all, when the bell rang, it was a "new year" for me, too. I couldn't head into my volunteer meetings with last year's tool kit, could I? The travesty!

Home we three would head. Supplies divvied up onto the counter. Label maker pulled out. Backpack loaded. In July no less. What were we to do? The fun was in the selecting, the fun was in the waiting, the fun was in the going. We relished the entire process. My boys were always extremely eager for meet the teacher night, and the commencement of the school year. They were great little students and loved the social network of school as much as they adored their teachers and mastered their lessons.

When Texas launched tax free sales weekend, and Macy's matched their tax hiatus with back to school sales, we upped our school shopping to include clothes. We learned to go the night before and preview the choices. Some stores would set things to the side for me, ready for me on Friday morning to run in at opening bell and pay quickly and get out before the crowds descended. {Thanks Aeropostale - you done good by me.} Steve would always pick up the jeans at Macy's. Of course, he calls them denim. And he would let me know when the denim deals happened. I would let him know their sizes.

When the boy were in middle school, they began taking an interest in their clothes. By the time they graduated, I was out of the picture, with the exception of the photo on my debit card. They morphed from Aeropostale to Urban Outfitters and Pac Sun. I morphed from going to giving them a budget. I honestly didn't mind and I enjoyed seeing what treasures they came home with, albeit some of them looking like my definition of school clothes not so much. Denim? It still came from Macy's. We've had all sizes of Levi's in this house. You could measure the growth of the child by the change in that famous waistband tag.

When August 2013 rolled around, we were left with one child at home needing supplies. One child at home that does not like to shop. One child at home that is independent. One child at home that would rather not be seen in public with us unless it is at Chuy's for mexicana comida deluxe. We casually offered to Andrew a little excursion and nearly fell over when he agreed to go!

We headed to North Park mall quickly, before he changed his mind, in search of anything he would agree to let us buy. Said child not only dislikes shopping, at the time he disliked getting anything either. We settled on some jeans, er....denim, and we found some shirts he liked, and we even found some shoes. It was a wardrobe trifecta. Given he was in the spirit, we then headed to Target. Why put off to tomorrow what you can do today? With Andrew, we knew to strike while the iron is hot. A momentous end to a family tradition? #bullseye

Notebook paper? Check. Binder? Check. Red pens? Check. Last round of this shopping rodeo? Check, check, check. It was a sobering reality to be sure. Hard to believe my days of spirals and new pens and fun notebooks are over. Oh, wait. They're not. You might just find, if you know where to look, my private stash of school supplies. A part of me will always feel invigorated by "the start of school", and will soak in the new beginning of a season. New blue jeans, though, are optional. 

Back 2 School Shopping ~ Our Final Rodeo ~ August 2013

Paper: Basic Grey, Lily Bee, Pink Paislee, Simple Stories
Font: Pacifico

1 comment:

  1. That is adorable paper, and an adorable boy of course! Sometimes I swear we were separated at birth...