Thursday, August 7, 2014

That New Pencil Smell

The television commercials have been in full swing, from the cheesy to the comical.

The school buses have been doing their test run and parents across the nation have been doing their version of "Happy" while the kids have been trying to hide under the covers and prolong the inevitable.

Back to school is one of my favorite seasons.

I think it is because of the perpetual learner in me.  There is just something about those newly sharpened pencils, a fresh box of colored pencils, and the crisp ream of new paper that begs for the mind to be unleashed.

My youngest children, both girls, seem to share my enthusiasm for the "Back-to-School" aisle at our local Target.  All the bins of markers, pens, pencils, and notebooks sent these girls gleefully up and down the aisles negotiating their "supply list" with the money their dad gave them for this task.

I tried something different this year, instead of paying for it all at once, with their input, of course, I gave them the money my husband gave me for this "first wave" of shopping.

It was a bit inspiring and comical to watch these almost 7th and 5th grade girls negotiate between wants and needs and deciding to forgo that "really cute pencil case."  I smile as I was able to sneak in a math and economics lesson even as the sales signs were begging for attention.

When I was a girl, those mandatory Prang Intimates (water color paints!), Crayola crayons, and Big Chief Writing Tablets were met with the Scooby Doo metal lunchbox (with matching thermos) and the wooden pencil box.  I remember the year in middle school when I was allowed to buy colored pens and colored paper to go in my "trapper keeper."  It was just so optimistic.

My daughters came home with their purchases, one went $20 under budget and lent her big sister $10 so she could make up for going $30 over budget.  The big sister reminded us that "middle school is more expensive with more classes and more binders needed" than the little sister's "elementary school is so easy" needs.  I sensed a bit of sibling rivalry rising up and hoped a bag of SmartPop white cheddar and an organic raspberry lemonade would quiet down the pending war...it did for a while.

The girls each chose to purchase plain binders that they "blinged up" with words that represented them.  They utilized my scrapbooking supplies (think I need to go shopping now) and old magazines that they cut up.  They plan to DIY their composition notebooks with something called "washi tape" and add some kind of chalking effect so they can write on the outside.  I guess those tween/teen DIY videos my big girl has been watching have really helped them step up their design game.  They have two more weeks of summer vacation to do all this planning.

My dining table is covered in new bins, crayons, and markers waiting for the anticipation of new classes and new experiences.  Nevermind that my girls have been in Mama Tayé's Academy all summer and have read close to 6000 minutes (little sis) and 3000 minutes (big sis).  They each have 3-5 books added to their home library from summer reading prizes and have calculated equations, written essays, and conducted observations.  They are still excited about the official going back-to-school month of August.

The New Pencil Smell equals optimism, possibility, and wonder.  To me, it means adventure and discovery.  I am well past the age of 5th and 7th grades, but I am still in awe of the process of learning new things, meeting new people, and wondering what can expand my education.

It is back-to-school season, what are you excited about?


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