Oh my, it’s school supply time


It could be said that I’m a fan of the No. 2. It’s predictable, reliable, always in style and if you put in the effort, it’s always ready to go.
There are some who think the mechanized version is superior, but I prefer the old-fashioned ones — the weight of it in your hand, the way it feels when you grip it between your teeth and of course, the smell.
There’s just something about them, all in a row, shiny and yellow, honed to a fine point. Yes, old-school pencils have a special place in my heart. What did you think I was talking about?
I’ve had pencils on the brain for more than a week now. You parents out there probably know why — it’s back-to-school season so the discussion of “You need HOW many pencils?” is hard to escape.
This weekend I tied on my most comfortable shoes, bit the eraser and took my kids shopping for school supplies. I know the tax-free weekend was earlier this month, but for years now, circumstances have conspired to keep me from shopping on that weekend.
The one year I actually managed to get to a store on the tax-free weekend left me utterly terrified. It was like a Bergdorf’s sample sale for soccer moms.
So I eschew the savings and go supply hunting during the calm after the storm. The items my kids need are still pretty basic and can be scooped up for 59 and 69 cents. No the folders aren’t 10 for a penny, but you know what, I’m lucky enough to be able to be able to afford the additional 48 cents, so it’s all good.
Since my children were mere zygotes, I declared school-supply shopping to be my sole domain. Yes, I do understand that their father — who is wicked-smart in his own right — is perfectly capable of reading the supply list and purchasing the items.
But when you begin to understand the fact that I have an appreciation for office supplies that borders on the unhealthy, you will understand that it’s best just to step aside and let me do my thing.
Sure the kids are involved, but I mean really … We all know who’s in charge.  When my oldest holds up a packet of sad, generic, manila binder page dividers and says “These will do,” I have to restrain myself.
No, no they won’t do. Not when you have the poly ones right here. Not only are there eight instead of a mere five, but, but they will last the whole year. And then you can use them for something fun over the summer. You can divide your binder into all kinds of fantastical sections.
And the pencil pouch! Oh, the pencil pouch. Chock full of pencils of course, but also pens and erasers. And not just yellow pencils — green and blue and black and striped and polka-dotted and covered in starts and shiny foil and hearts.
Now that you have the dividers, you need paper. Depending on what class goes in what section, you need to allocate your paper carefully. Literature needs a lot ’cause you’ll be writing a lot. Don’t make that face — writing is fun.
And math needs a bunch because you have to show your work. Science and social studies will use a hefty amount because of all the notes you’ll be taking.
Hmmm, maybe you need another binder. Come here children. Gaze upon the wonder and be amazed. There are plain black and red, orange, green, yellow. You can get “Ninja Turtles” or “Sponge Bob.”
And oh. My. Stars. Lisa Frank still exists. Psychedelic rainbow unicorns, kittens and fairies, dalmatians done up in technicolor. No, that’s not for you. Mommy needs to  … organize something.
Then there are the basics like scissors, protractors, rulers and glue sticks. Oh look, these glue sticks go on purple and dry clear. You want those don’t you? Yeah you do.
You need colored pencils — sure you can get the erasable ones — crayons? No, no crayons? That’s kind of sad. Get some anyway. We have coloring books at home, right?
Oh, and markers, a bottle of glue and folders. With brads? Without? Both? Not glossy. Well that’s no fun. But I guess your teacher knows best. Sigh.
Hey, look it’s the clearance rack. I didn’t not know they made note pads in the shape of a piece of birthday cake. How much? 50 cents? Throw it in the cart. And here are the pens you needed. What is that? A what? It’s 50 cents? Throw it in the cart.
Are we done? Boy it sure looks like it. Wait … you need HOW many pencils?

-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.