Nothing says new beginnings like a fresh pack of pencils (7/22/2015)

In case y’all haven’t noticed, summer is over.

I know, we just celebrated the fourth of July a few weeks ago, but the school supplies are already on the shelves.

‘Cause we know ‘summer’ is only eight weeks now instead of about three solid months like the rest of us had.

But, oh, the school supplies are so much better now. And nothing says a new beginning like a new pack of pencils.

Or a notebooks, with their fresh, clean pages.

My obsession with school supplies probably started in kindergarten. A chubby kid didn’t get a lot of attention, but if you had neat pencils and a decent sized box of Crayolas, everyone wanted to be your friend.

If you had the mega box of Crayolas – you know, the one with the sharpener – you were pretty much the boss of the class. Or, at least had other kids ask to use your sharpener.

So seeing the aisles full of crayons, markers, paper, notebooks and Elmer’s glue made my heart skip a beat.

Nothing makes me happier than school supplies. All of it. Even the little packs of those triangular erasers that somehow end up breaking when you try to erase a boo-boo.

Huge packs of different colored pens make me happy, too.

And Sharpies – I was so excited when they were available in a color besides black.

Thankfully, my child has a deep affinity for all things school supply, probably because our back-to-school shopping adventures have always been such fun.

“Mama, why are school supplies so awesome?” Cole asked, gazing at the assortment of coloring instruments.

“They just are,” I replied.

“Did you always love school supplies?” he asked.

I did.

As an only child, my summers were spent reading and surrounded by adults who couldn’t always play with me. Much like Cole’s childhood now. So seeing school supplies meant school was starting back and I would get to see my friends again.

It also meant that my Uncle Bobby would start stock-piling supplies for me at the end of August. As soon as Bi-Lo put out the bins at the front of the store, topped with filler paper, pencils and spiral notebooks, my uncle started shopping for me.

And I think that sweet man thought I needed a pack of paper and a notebook for every week of school, because I was still using some of the supplies he got me when I was in college.

But nothing said love like a brown grocery sack loaded down with No. 2 pencils, and those black composition notebooks.

Even now, those are my preferred journals but like the Sharpies, they come in a variety of colors.

One morning, at breakfast, I had announced we were supposed to have colored pencils for something in school. Bobby nodded and told me he’d take care of it.

However, I didn’t clarify if I meant colored pencils or just pretty pencils that were in a color other than that yellowish orange color we know so well.

My uncle dropped off a plastic box full of colored pencils, and several packs of the prettiest swirly-colored pencils I have ever seen. They were so pretty, I didn’t want to use them. How could I sharpen something so lovely?

I did eventually, maybe traded one or two, but I saved a few, holding onto one of those beauties long into my 20s.

“Why do we love school supplies so much?” Cole asked, his gaze set on a shelf full of markers.

Because school supplies mean a new school year, seeing old friends and making new ones.

School supplies mean a fresh start.

Even though Cole’s homeschooled now, shopping for school supplies is a ritual we continue. We don’t start with last year’s broken crayons or stubs of pencils and half used notebooks. We get new ones. We open a new folder, put the paper in and write the year and class across the front.

It is the promise that a new school holds – maybe your crush forgot when you tripped and face planted in the hall, maybe you had a growth spurt over the summer and were now the tallest in your class.

Or maybe, you got your braces off and that bad perm finally grew out.

Your best guy friend who you remembered for having boogies in his nose was suddenly the class cutie.

Lots of things could happen over summer – of course, that was when we had three full months to make our transformation – but, we always knew that summer break could cause some miraculous changes.

“Because somehow, baby, a new pack of pencils has a lot of potential.”

New beginnings, and a lot of potential.

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