Well, it’s that time of year again. The shelves are stocked and the commercials are running constantly. Yes, it’s back to school shopping time.
I was always one of those kids who loved school – and who especially loved back to school shopping. I can distinctly remember spending hours pouring over the flyers in August and clipping out pictures of all the items I thought I would need. Strangely enough, every year my mom assured me that I didn’t need all those supplies (since when does a kid in Grade 4 not need a stapler, four binders, tape, highlighters, pens and report covers?) and that we could wait until after the first week or so before we went back to school shopping.
I always had some fear of being unprepared – that I would walk into school and that would be the day that the teacher told us all to whip out our binders and fancy pens and go to town on some assignment. It never seemed to happen, maybe my mom did know the score.
My obsession with back to school “necessities” only got worse as I got older. You see, by the time high school rolled around, I had my own money. I remember babysitting all summer between Grade 8 and Grade 9 and saving up my money to go back to school shopping. I’m pretty sure I was more excited about the supplies than the idea of new clothes. Finally, high school! I’ll actually need that compass and protractor now!
Still didn’t really need any of that stuff.
Every year it was the same though – I would stock up on hundreds of sheets of plain lined paper, new binders, more pens than a single person could ever go through…you name it, I wanted it. There’s something so hopeful about a brand new binder filled with clean, lined paper. Every year, my mantra was “This year, I won’t procrastinate! I’ll take my time and start things as soon as they’re assigned! No one can stop me now, I have a binder with 250 sheets of blank lined paper!”
To this date, I have only ever written two essays on a day other than the day before they were due. No word of a lie. And one of those essays ended up being trapped on my computer that refused to turn on the night before it was due and forced me to rewrite the entire 3000 word assignment. That’s what you get for trying to get a head start.
University proved to be the ultimate in school supply obsession. I spend an obscene amount of money the summer before my first year of university. I remember even buying a “student starter pack” through the university that came with a pad of lined paper with the University crest on it, disks (this was before flashdrives, kids) and all kinds of goodies. It wasn’t enough though. I bought a desk, I bought a chair, I bought packages of pens and highlighters from Costco. I was completely prepared.
By the time I entered my fourth year of University, I had the supplies down to a science. I had a clipboard that I used to write all of my in-class notes. Every single note was then transposed into a specific notebook at home for each specific class. Each class notebook was divided into sections so I could have a section of notes from class and notes from reading the texts. Each note was written in rough during class in blue ink only and then transposed in black ink with colour for emphasis. I was a machine.
Then, it all ended. I completed University and had to face the scariest option of all – not only was I faced with growing up and finding a real job and starting life, I had to face a Labour Day weekend that meant nothing. An August where I didn’t have to go and spend gobs of money in Staples or the student book store to get ready for those wonderful early September days where the weather was beautiful and hopes were high. There was no back to school for me.
Every year since University, this time of year makes me a little sad. I still obsess over office supplies, but can’t justify many of them. Getting engaged brought the beast out of hibernation again though – so much to organize! I must have these 20 different coloured pens! But now, the wedding is long behind me and I’m finding that planning for a baby doesn’t require quite the same gusto for notebooks, pens, and Post-It Note flags. What is a girl to do?