Back to School

School starts tomorrow. The budget wasn’t passed and a class was eliminated in each grade, meaning class size is slightly larger this year. Apparently there won’t be a second to spare, not even to sharpen a pencil. So here I sit, sharpening 24 Ticonderoga #2 pencils, as per the official school supplies list. I suppose the theory is when your point breaks or wears down, just take a new pencil and be done with it. Quick and efficient for the kid and teacher—mind-numbing for the parent doing the sharpening. Luckily, I have one of those battery-operated gizmos.

I wasn’t having too much luck at first, but then I remembered I hadn’t changed the batteries in about 15 years. Went in search of a Phillips-head screwdriver and managed to undo the very tight screws. Guess what? Not the battery compartment. Now I’m frickinfrackin under my breath. I screw those babies back in and the last one won’t go all the way. Of course you realize I’m not using a good Phillips-head screwdriver. I’m using this teeny tiny one that came in the handle of a pink floral hammer—because some marketer thinks that when a woman needs to screw, her tool doesn’t need to be as large as a man’s. No pun intended, I swear.

Finally, I find the battery compartment on the end. Pop four new ones in there. Wow, it’s like a lumberjack’s saw. Totally buzzing. I’m tempted to go put on a red-plaid, flannel shirt, but it’s about 80 degrees out. I put the first pencil in and stare at my computer screen. I have to keep taking it out to check my progress. By about pencil 16, I realize there is a slight give when the pencil is finished being sharpened—no checking required. I guess I was numb. Probably shouldn’t be operating heavy machinery. Does a battery-operated pencil sharpener count as heavy machinery?

All done with the sharpening. What’s that fine print at the bottom of the supply list? All supplies must be labeled with child’s name. Great. Do they mean the box of 24 pencils or each pencil? Better play it safe. Thank God I named my kid Jon—no “h.”

24 pencils, 24 crayons, 2 highlighters, 5 large glue sticks, 4 packs of Post-it notes, 12 washable markers, 26 colored pencils, 4 Sharpie markers, 5 marble notebooks, 3 folders, 2 erasers, 1 pair of scissors, 4 rolls of Scotch tape, 1 container of wipes, 1 box of baggies, a freakin’ partridge in a pear tree and one grown woman’s index finger (what can I say, I was on a roll).

More fine print: Please bring these items in for the first day of school. Additional items might be requested by individual teachers at a later date.

What more could he possibly need? We have at least one of everything in the Staples catalog.

I’m finally finished and start loading up his backpack. I’m still seeing “Jon Jon Jon” flash across my eyes—kind of like when you play too much Tetris and you see colored pieces falling even after the game is over. Frightening, but it will pass.

I sit back and take a deep breath and my eyes glance one more time at my now checked-off supply list. There’s a box at the bottom of the page with some more fine print:

. . . and finally, children learn BEST when parents and teachers work closely together. Make the next school year “the” year that you maintain frequent contact with your child’s teacher.

It’s official. The summer is over.

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3 Comments

  1. September 2, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    One of the things that surprise me about American schools is why kids do not carry their own -non electric, btw- pencil sharpeners.

  2. bronxboy55 said,

    February 26, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    We still have a drawer full of school supplies from when our son was in the fourth grade (he’s now a junior in high school). Why do they need a new box of colored pencils every year? I have colored pencils that I bought when I was single.

    Hey, aren’t Ticonderogas the best, though? The World’s Best Pencil. Darn right.

    • February 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm

      I’ve grown wiser over the years. We now recycle what we have on hand. My house looks like the Staples warehouse.

      I prefer PaperMate Sharpwriter #2 mechanical pencils with pink erasers. 🙂


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