A big brown truck pulled up to our house Tuesday afternoon, prompting the children to run shrieking out the door to ask the UPS man what he brought them. I didn't hear the exchange, but I watched as Will, Mary, and Maggie came back triumphant, yet staggering under the weight of three boxes. Just then the doorbell rang, "Maggie is here!" and the boxes were unceremoniously dropped in favor of the baby sitter's attention. However, when I returned from my run there were the children's brand new school books scattered all across the living room while the boxes had been transformed into shields, swords, and daggers. Later in the afternoon I cleaned up the debris, stacked up each child's book stack, and started what seems like the 4,000,000th to-do list since I have become a parent.
School supply lists are fun to shop for. I can anticipate the excitement of learning to read, mastering a page of math, and performing science experiments in the kitchen that explode. I became giddy in the Back To School aisle, "I'll get two packets of brand new pencils, and three packages of erasers, and four bottles of glue, and hey, look at the art supplies! What magnificent artistic creations might emerge from this set of watercolor paints?"
This year I splurged on custom-made rubber stamps for each subject. While I love sitting down and transferring instructions from the lesson plans to each child's assignment book, I despise writing out "reading, phonics, handwriting..." 108 times. It takes a week for the stamps to come in, but every minute since the books arrived the children have been hounding me, "Can we start school today? Can I teach Maggie? Can't I start something?" While this enthusiasm will fade, I would love to jump into things while the anticipation level is high. But I can't get prepared without those darn stamps, and I am not quite ready to buckle down yet. It is still summer, time for festivals, the fair, and trips to the beach. I know the kids want to open the readers filled with new stories and break into the bags of school supplies, but I want to wait another few weeks.
Perhaps I'll let them have some things for drawing and painting and later restock the supply shelf. But I know that when I see the displays of brand new folders I won't be able to control myself. I think I can justify the expense to my husband when I point out that a trip to Walmart is certainly cheaper than tuition at the local Catholic school.