In my almost 47 years, I have returned to school as a teacher or student for approximately 38 of those years.
In late August I am inevitably drawn to the office supply section or store, even if I am not going back to school. I seem to still need to buy a fresh supply of pens and pencils. I walk up and down the aisles and look at the assortment available. Do I need coloured pens? Might I need a new highlighter? Should I buy a new eraser even if I have a bunch already in my desk drawer at home? What could I put into a new portfolio or report cover?
As I search for that elusive new writing utensil that will mark that back to school feeling, I find myself smiling as I listen to a small child talking about the new school year with absolute joy. I chuckle, but also feel some empathy for the harassed mother of a teenager who is not pleased by anything. And, if I catch her eye, I give her the comiserating look of a mom who has been there.
When my kids were preparing for school each fall, I don't know if I sang the catchy Christmas song and advertising jingle of Staples, "It's the most wonderful time of the year," but if I had it would have been with a combination of feelings. I'd be thinking "Finally, the kids are bored and they need to get back to school!" But, I'd also be thinking "Yay! I get to buy new school supplies!"
This is one of those falls when I'm not going back to school. I must admit I no longer have that melancholic feeling as I witness my teacher friends starting their new year. I do miss teaching and the learning that comes with it, but I don't miss the marking and the push and pull of planning, extra curricular activities, and meeting my own and my family's needs. However, I do miss the need to go to pick up new supplies, and the purchasing of new textbooks for myself. The promise of new learning, the crisp feel of the pages of the new book...
I guess that's why I found myself in Staples last week, buying new pens, pencils, highlighters and post-its.