There’s a nip in the air come nightfall, and the leaves are performing their annual drop-and-clog ritual into the swimming pool. Halloween candy is already in the supermarkets, so school must be right around the corner!
As a kid, this was truly my favorite time of year. I loved pulling out cozy warmer clothes and deciding what to wear that first day of school. (Um, which concert jersey? And do I wear the Jordache with the white stitching, or the pair with the gold embroidered horse on the tiny extra front pocket only large enough to accommodate an emergency quarter for calling my parents from the payphone in the arcade at the bowling alley? Ah, memories of the good ol’ obsolete days!)
And I absolutely loved buying school supplies. Back in those days, teachers didn’t give a list. There were no big-box stores devoting aisles and aisles to folders with pockets and prongs, or folders with center brads and no pockets. (Say what?) I would walk into Rite Aid, pick out my couple of pens, pencils, and my superawesomewickedcool Trapper Keeper and be done with it.
The writer already instilled within Young Me LOVED the prospect of page after page of blank filler paper and a pen with all its ink. The possibilities were endless.
Akin to a child’s joy of playing in an empty cardboard box and to hell with whatever cool item came packaged inside, I loved decorating my textbook covers. The school would supply plainish covers to mask their pocked and scarred property, and we would all go to work drafting every cool band logo we could think of. Some of the worthy ones of the day included:
If you could replicate all four mysterious Led Zeppelin symbols, you were legendary:
WCMF, the rock radio station in my hometown, also gave away nice book covers: glossy black with their logo and red graffiti-splattered “LONG LIVE ROCK AND ROLL” embossing them. In 1983, that was the ultimate statement.
Do kids even get textbooks anymore? Or does all that text live online or in a virtual cloud somewhere? (And our kids might ask: What’s a radio station?)
On a hot night in July, shortly after being backstage at an Iron Maiden concert, I threw myself into the most dangerous of moshpits; i.e. the Target school supply section. In there, it’s Soccer Mom vs. Dance Mom. A Labradoodle-eat-Lhasa-Poo world of supply and demand. I kept my wits about me, armed with my school-supplied list of rations (every year it includes multiple boxes of tissues, Zip Locs and Purell, which makes me slightly nervous. Is this for a classroom or an episode of Dexter?).
I emerged triumphant and five lbs leaner, having spent roughly the GNP of a Third World country on stuff…and I only have one child. Forget saving for college – if you have three kids, you invest in Mead!
After surviving that came the Herculean task of labeling each and every crayon, pencil and folder. Maybe this could be categorized under Helicopter Mom, but there’s no way my 10-year old is going to legibly Sharpie her name on a .25in #2 pencil twenty times. I will take one for the team and get high on the Sharpie fumes myself.
I wonder if obsessive labeling will still be required in high school? I hope by that time, my daughter has the patience, stamina and hand-dexterity to complete such a task. But for now, I get to revel in the newness of her school supplies. All that blank paper, the endless possibilities…