They’re all in their places with bright shiny faces. Ah, the start of the school year, another year of living and learning. This time of year brings back memories as well as a trip to Target, school shopping with granddaughter, Elena Duve, as she begins her student teaching. Passing the school supply section brought it all back.

Elena decided to stay back and avoid the chaos, but I plunged in. I should have had on a suit of armor and earplugs as I attempted to get the few items I needed. I was far outnumbered by mothers (dads, you should attempt this one year) and their darlings. The moms were clutching long lists of items required to help their child learn better. If indeed they had lost the list, however, Target had lists from area schools available.

When I was attending grade school, we had very little in the way of supply requirements. For kindergarten at Ames School all I needed was a glass bottle for juice in a protective carrying case (mine was a red felt bag), a rug or “blankie” to sleep on and a smock of some sort to protect my clothes from getting paint on them. 

As my children entered school, the list was smaller than today but it was the time for me to stock up on supplies for the year. I always insisted they have a sharpened No. 2 pencil, a folder and paper on the first day. 

“But we don’t do anything on the first day,” the kids would say.

“That’s OK, you’ll look like you’re ready,” was my reply

As a teacher, I was not demanding as to what my charges needed. I was happy if by October they had finally brought their own pencils, folder and crayons and would stop borrowing from their neighbor student. It was easier for me to have “extras” on hand.

Then it was schoolbags, now it’s backpacks which kids drag on their backs as if they are turtle shells. Poor stooped over kids; we’re creating a generation of back problems. 

I think some kids have their life in their backpacks. Ask to look inside and you may never want to look again.

Elena and I completed our mission and hopefully the moms survived. Oh, and a box of tissue after standing in front of a class is a must. Did I tell you to label everything? Careful crossing the streets and … well, have a good year!