Book Learnin’


School Supplies 

School supplies were kind of my jam back in the day.  In fact, even now whenever I enter serious business negotiations, I always lead with slowly splitting the Velcro seal on my Transformers Trapper Keeper in order to let the intimidation set in.  You other professionals can have your leather padfolios but I bet they don’t have a built-in pencil-case or a secret milk money pocket.

I always liked school supplies because the idea of organization is very appealing to me.  It is the execution of said organization that I find dreadfully boring and difficult to maintain.  The first day of school was always my most organized day of the year because my backpack was full of fresh pencils and unbent folders and all of my crayons were present and accounted for in a box with no frayed and torn edges.  Basically by day two, I had doodled on all of my folders, lost three crayons, spilled my glue and managed to crumple every important handout into one paper lump in the bottom of my Jansport.

The first day of school was also the day that my shoes were the cleanest which meant I was at the apex of my jumping and running abilities.  Maybe the first night or so I would get home and try to rub out the new scuffs with a wet paper towel but by the end of the week they looked like those Nikes that Forrest Gump ran across the country in.  Only they weren’t Nikes, they were Pro-Wings which were similar to Nikes only the swoosh went the other way, the colors weren’t as cool, and they cost about 20% of what Nikes did.

I loved the new school supplies because regardless of their looming destiny of being lost, broken, or crumpled, for that brief moment they were pristine and full of promise.  Not to overload the Tom Hanks references but I think he summed up the allure of new school supplies best when his character Joe Fox told Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.”  Much like a bouquet of flowers, my pencils would wither and die in no time but for that moment they were perfect.  There is a little bit of magic in that first day of school as you feel your independence start to swell inside of you and realize that you will have a hand in charting your own course.  Even if it is only that you are in charge of your pencils and glue sticks, you are still the boss of something.

I don’t know if you remember the last time you had one of those little lumps form in the back of your throat but my daughter started first grade today, so for me it was this morning.  Regardless of their inevitable demise, the perfectness of brand new school supplies is totally sweet.



When The Fat Lady Sings 

Yep, you read that last part right.  Today the high in Atlanta  is 90 degrees and kids are headed back to school.  Where does the time go?  Sure, they get out at the beginning of May now but it still just doesn’t feel right.  While I will admit that the first day of school can be sweet, it pales in comparison to the weakness of the last day of summer vacation.  The last day of summer vacation is like the Sunday night blues times infinity.  You start to worry that they might have really been serious about that summer reading list but there is no use in starting now and you suddenly feel like you didn’t chew near enough gum during the summer and it is about to be forbidden.

You try to look on the bright side and consider your new kicks and school clothes but no matter what your mom says, you know that the little knight on the horse holding a flag  on your Knights of the Round Table shirt looks nothing like the real Polo logo.  At least you were able to avoid the Rose Art crayon incident of last year and you got your mom to spring for some Crayolas (not that anyone forgot your loser crayons).

You don’t even consider it at the time because you are excited about your new duds but somewhere around getting off the bus, you realize you are that kid that wore his back to school sweater and stiff dark blue Rustler jeans even though it is August and almost 100 degrees outside.  Your new supplies are nice but eventually you realize that your Trapper Keeper must have been last year’s model on clearance because it didn’t come with a glow in the dark protractor or vinyl mesh pocket on the inside.  Quickly any first day magic fades away and cold hard fact that summer is over washes over you.

I guess there are two kinds of people in the world, those that call it the night before the first day of school, and those that call it the last day of summer vacation.  For me, I was like  a sailor watching his final day of shore leave evaporate around him.  That day was always a last day and never a day before a first.  I suppose book learnin’ is still important so off to school they go but when the fat lady is entering the final chorus of your summer of freedom, it is totally weak.




About Simon

I am a husband and a dad of two little girls. I am a lone Y chromosome and am already planning my escape strategy to deal with the estrogen flood that is on its way. People say there is a lot of joy to be found in the simple things and I have found they can provide a healthy dose of anti-awesome as well. I am, in general, a pretty optimistic guy and needed a bit of a creative outlet; so here it is. Thanks for stopping by. View all posts by Simon

44 responses to “Book Learnin’

  • Lisa Sommario Dembosz

    This was so cute, I felt so nostalgic when I began reading and seeing the picture of the trapper keeper. I loved mine! I loved back to school shopping when I was younger. Your post was very well-written and did what it intended to do- take the reader back to the past and to the time of innocence.

  • Andrew

    I want to go to a land where summer never stops, but you can still carry around Transfomer binders. That’s Australia right?

  • cristycarringtonlewis

    I think you may have found a product that can unify the world. Who doesn’t love the Trapper Keeper? Who doesn’t remember their first Trapper Keeper? Who doesn’t feel better just knowing that another person also treasures their Trapper Keeper memories. I think if Obama shows up at the DNC carrying a Trapper Keeper, it’s all gonna be okay.

    Oh, and I’m in the middle of revamping my blog – new name and new look – and I’ve created a fave blog roll page that includes your blog link! Not like you need it, Mr. Freshly Pressed Every Time I Take A Piss.

    • Simon

      You are too sweet Cristy, I am looking forward to seeing your new blog I mean especially if you have dedicated an entire page to me….erm, what was that? Its not a whole page? Kidding, I am honored to be included. Now if I could shake free of the blog apathy and actually write something.

      I totally feel you on the Trapper Keeper, still waiting for the executive line to come out with a leather embossed Ferrari on it.

      Thanks for your kind words as always.

  • Dave

    Good luck with the first grade. I get lumps and my kids are only in 2 day a week pre-school. For only 2 hours. Time goes by quickly. By the way, I sure hope they bring back Trapper Keepers. Those things rocked back in the day! (Unless they are back and I just missed it)

    • Simon

      I am waiting for the business line of trapper keepers myself. Time goes by way too fast, we have to cherish every moment we have and remember that even the times that wear us out will be sorely missed one day. thanks for stopping by.

  • SzaboInSlowMo

    School has started already? Crap, I just got some time off, haha. This made me laugh…just the thought of Trapper Keepers! I just sent one to college and my next starts high school in about a week. They’re both bummed that they don’t have a school supply list. Not me. Those lists piss me off. I’d elaborate, but I’ll probably post about it in the next week, so I’ll save my jokes for then. 🙂

  • klrs09

    You got it all right. I remember the thrill of anticipation waiting for school to start and the promise of new school clothes and shoes. Even as an adult working in a school — I’m an education assistant — I still go out and buy myself a new outfit and shoes to start my new work year. LOL The more things change, the more they stay the same, I always say. And as for your ‘weak’ argument: I absolutely dread the end of summer. Always have, and now that I’m in my fifties and looking forward to retirement I dread it all that much more. I want summer to go on forever, it’s just that simple.

    • Simon

      Well I hope you have a good year. I will never forget not being allowed to wear my new school shoes until the first day and wanting to so badly. Thanks for reading.

  • freshveggiesinthedesert

    I had that exact Trapper Keeper and I still hold it dear to my heart. I don’t remember why it was such a big deal but it was soooooooo cool. I still love school supplies.

  • aparnauteur

    Great post! Thanks taking me back to those carefree days. As a child, I used to love getting school supplies as it was the only thing I didn’t have to beg or throw a tantrum for—I was entitled to it. I used to spend the whole day smelling the new books and writing my name on them, imagining how that year was gonna be my year.
    I still go window shopping in stationery stores; just love ’em!

  • Stacie Chadwick

    So I’ve always loved getting school supplies. Always, always, always. But this year I didn’t love it so much. I waited too long, Target was super-crowded and out of a lot of stuff, my kids spontaneously lost their ability to read lists as they wandered over to the video game aisle, and I was hungry. Next time I’m hittin it hard in mid-June when the aisles start to fill with erasers that smell like strawberries. Great post as always, Simon.

    • Simon

      Aw man, erasers that smell like strawberries, I had forgotten about how much scented and scratch and sniff stuff we used to have. I did attend the school supply shopping trip but also succumbed to the electronics section and let the ladies pick out the sparkly folders.
      Thanks for reading Stacie.

  • newsofthetimes

    Ha! You had me at trapper Keeper. How do you remember this stuff??? I love it!! 🙂

  • PoppyHill Creations

    You totally hit it on the school supplies. It saddens me to send my 3-year-old off to preschool with a brand spankin’ new box of crayola crayons knowing full well that within the week they’ll be in one giant box – paper torn and broken. Blah. Thankfully though, he doesn’t start till the first week of September, so for us up here in NC we’ve got one more month of summer to go!

  • Michelle Gillies

    The kids here don’t go back until the day after Labour Day (first week of September). They finish in June sometime. It seems a shame to have to go to school in August as it is usually the hottest month of the year and clearly still summer.

  • Audrey

    I’m a last-day-of-summer kind of girl too! Sundays are particularly evil now that I’m growed up. 🙂 But yay for new Trapper Keepers! I can’t believe school is starting already, gosh it seems too early.

  • Sid Dunnebacke

    You nailed this Simon. My girls are living the sub-par supplies & clothes life as school approaches, but in typically awesome fashion don’t seem to care. I hope your 1st grader’s teacher is as great as our kids’ – FUN times.

    • Simon

      Sid, you are the one that nailed it. These are fun times and the right teacher is so important. Your kids being awesome is obviously a reflection of their upbringing so you are to be commended.

  • Lisa Smith Molinari

    Good stuff, as usual. Love the nostalgia — I remember a Kool Aid book bag I once had. It came with a red plastic lunch box and a little reusable milk bottle. I sent away for it with collected labels, and couldn’t wait to show up at school with it. I actually looked it up on eBay the other day to be sure my memory was correct! I also had a pencil case that looked like a big vinyl pencil that zipped around the eraser to reveal the tube-like container. Pretty cool….

  • La La

    I can see you and your velcro right now and ohhhh man, I am absolutely reliving my Lisa Frank days with all those bright colors and cuteness.

    You are really good at taking me back to moments that people sometimes take for granted. I think that’s one reason I like your posts so much.

  • lauriebest

    Wonderful article! Very nostalgic…I particularly remember when my eldest daughter started school. She had her plaid (wool) skirt , new sneakers, and teddy-bear backpack on — and it was at least 85 degrees (in Southern Ontario in September). We’re still in summer mode, but you can feel fall approaching — at least at the mall!

  • Carrie Rubin

    We still have a couple weeks before school starts around here (Ohio), but the school supplies have been purchased. Well, for the younger one, anyway. The oldest is trapped in a 6-day intensive football pre-season camp. His choice, but I can’t help feeling bad for my baby. We mother’s are like that. 🙂

    But I, too, love the idea of all those new supplies. Walking into a Staples or Office Depot store can be sheer heaven to me.

  • Brigitte

    Simon, I loved this. I can remember those first days of going back to school and getting those school supplies — the fresh clean paper, new pencils, all that (you just described it so perfectly). And I was like you; I didn’t have all the “new” stuff either. I had sisters and hand-me-downs. Good luck with your sweet little one — in first grade, that must be bittersweet.

    Oh and the thing you said about summer: “The last day of summer vacation is like the Sunday night blues times infinity.” PERFECT. YES.

    It most certainly is and I’d wish I’d written that. It makes me kind of hate you, but in a good kind of way. (and I know you get that last statement). ;).

    • Simon

      You’re simply the best Brigitte, I appreciate the kind words even more because I have been a bit blocked and apathetic about writing and the blog lately. It means a lot.

      • Brigitte

        I’m right there with you. I keep thinking I’m just going to slap a picture of something up with a witty comment, but I don’t have that much witty in me either. That apathy thing is a monster sometimes. So there’s that. You’re welcome and no you are. (the best). :).

      • SzaboInSlowMo

        I just saw your comment after I already posted, so please know I’m not a stalker or anything. But I hope you continue your blog. And you too, Brigitte. I enjoy reading anything both of you write. I’ve been in the same mood. It’s becoming a chore, and I’m wanting to do quickie posts to keep it going. Life gets hectic and you don’t have time to write. And when life slows down, you can’t remember what to write about. Don’t quit!

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