Happy New (School) Year!

20140805_224350-001Now that school systems have such different calendars, the start of a new school year doesn’t feel as momentous as I recall from my childhood. My friends in southern Indiana are on a year-round calendar, so they went back on July 30. In much of Michigan, the first day of school is the day after Labor Day. Meanwhile, we fall somewhere in the middle, starting our 2014-2015 school year in mid-August. So, whenever your school bell rings, happy new (school) year!

Because we’ll soon be cursing our alarm before dawn, Monday through Friday, to meet the school bus, we’re very attuned to school calendar. But, even before we had children, I looked at the end of summer as an opportunity for a fresh start. I would succumb to the siren song of back-to-school sales and bring home a new daily planner, it’s pages untouched and ready to bring order to my chaos; new pens, all still wearing their matching caps and guaranteed to make my handwriting neater; tiny bins and boxes, perfect for holding all the miscellany in my life. I’d also renew my attempts at getting to bed earlier, reading more, and taking better care of myself – echoing the main character in every Sweet Valley High book, determined this would be my best year ever!

This week, our youngest son decided to start gathering the items on his school supply list. I watched with great pride as he looked in drawers and cabinets around the house, shopping from what we have on hand, rather than asking for a trip to Target. We printed new name labels in some of his favorite fonts (Angry Birds, Minecraft, and Star Wars), then we gave each item a little TLC – sharpening pencils, adding some decorative stickers, and erasing stray pencil marks (including those left on erasers).

As you can see, we have an embarrassing number of perfectly good pencils and enough pencil erasers to cover any less than perfect ends. I’ll admit it, I used to feel like I had to provide a new set of pencils every year (I guess I was worried the teacher would look at us funny if we sent in used pencils?). But you should see me now: tearing out the first few pages of a barely used notebook to make it “new” again; gathering colored pencils from under beds and the backs of drawers, and rubber-banding them together to make a set; I’m even sending a medium-sized pink eraser, when the supply list asks for large (I know. Crazy!).

Based on all that, I’d say my parenting priorities earn a solid A this semester.

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