Bakugan backpacks? Yesterday, when my sister mentioned that she was registering my nephews for school, I was shocked and almost appalled. Apparently so were they. When I asked if they were excited about a new year, she laughed and said, "Not really."
I was the opposite until at least 9th grade. (By then, I'd decided I was too cool to be excited about anything other than Anne Rice books.) I always loved school; pretty much everything about school. I liked creaky metal Star Wars lunchboxes and Lisa Frank bear folders. I liked the smell of pencil shavings mixed with that crazy strong disinfectant that all schools are required by law to use. I liked having a desk and a locker. I liked the books. I liked (gasp) the classes!
You can see why this all had to remain top secret. I had a rep to protect.
Every year, I sighed loudly and drug my feet to catch the bus on the first day of school. I pretended I was soooo sleepy and annoyed when inside I was sparkling with excitement. When my friends complained, I added my voice to the whiny chorus: Why couldn't it stay summer forever? School sucks! I hate school! Secretly I was planning my outfits for the first two weeks and organizing my awesome pencils in my awesome school box.
The pinnacle of my dorky loser behavior was back to school shopping. I would lose my brain every year. We lived in a small baby town, so for good shopping, we had to drive into a slightly bigger baby town, which meant a road trip! My mother made a fun day out of it. We'd hit the malls, break for lunch at this amazing place where you could phone in your order from a red telephone on your table and then stop in Claire's Boutique for bows, rubber bracelets and other important accessories.
On the way out of town, we'd stop at Target, a place you've surely never heard of. It was this amazing large store that everyone pronounced "Tarrjay" to be cute! We didn't have one in my little town but the place was crazy, I tell you! They had everything! My sister and I would run up and down the school supplies aisles knocking crayons, erasers and folders into our cart. We'd pick out JanSport backpacks and My Little Pony lunchboxes and PacMan erasers. We'd run our hands over glossy Trapper Keeper spines and plastic glitter marker packs. We were allowed to go nuts with school supplies, with the glue sticks and the turtle pencil sharpeners. My mother was a teacher so while there was a strict budget regarding how many pairs of Guess jeans we could get, the Target school supply aisle was a wonderful free for all. A school supply buffet of awesomeness.
I liked it a little bit.
So, when my sister said the boys didn't want to go to school, it set off a deep seated intense reaction in me. All of a sudden, I was going into sixth grade. It's August. My bestie and I are floating around her pool on lounge chairs with Sun-In in our hair. She says, "I can't believe we have to go to school tomorrow." And I think, I'm just gonna be honest here. What's the big deal? I say, "I'm actually kind-of looking forward to it. We can't just swim and listen to Icehouse the rest of our lives."
She screamed. "ARE YOU SERIOUS? YOU'RE SUCH A NERD! DORK!"
I decided to dive into the deep end and stay down there until I couldn't breathe anymore. When I came up, she was still laughing at me. I never mentioned my school love again.
Even though I was a surly high school and college student, there is still a part of me that goes nuts for cute pens and notebooks. I still smile when I see the Back To School banners up in the grocery store. I still love the smell of pencils in the morning. And, I hope my nephews secretly do too. Life is too short and adulthood is too long to start hating school at age 6 or 7. I hope their reluctance to go back to school is an act. I hope they're stacking notebooks, lining up erasers and organizing backpacks. I hope they're planning their outfits.
*photo by Sveden.