Each year as the school year approaches after a three month hiatus, school children are required to shop for the necessary tools to aid in their education. Teachers send a list of supplies to households with the understanding that the students will obtain these supplies and bring them to school.

A basic list for a second grade student back in 1983 was:

I used to love getting new supplies, I was fascinated by the compass and protractor, spinning circles and measuring angles. Opening the packages was bliss, the smell of pencils, the wood and graphite mixed with the dry pink smell of new erasers. A whole new box of crayons until about third grade complete, unused and a WHOLE black crayon. A pair of scissors with curved points. Colored folders to match the spiral notebooks to eventually pair with the books of each subject. Green always went with science, no matter the color of books. New glue, uncrusted, not wheezing to extract the glue. Full.

I never had a fancy Trapper Keeper, or a Lunch box with He-Man, or Star Wars or GI Joe on it. I would brown bag it. Nor did I ever have a slide rule (I think the public school system didn't allow them?). My backpack was a plastic grocery bag until second grade. I did have a pencil case each year and used it religiously for all of two weeks.

Each year supply lists grew, and favorites were left off. I guess we get too big for magic markers and crayons at some point and were required to switch from wide ruled to college ruled paper. Pens replace pencils and we began to complete our thoughts and merge disciplines. Recess disappeared and girls stopped being gross.

Children today have different standards. Yesterday, I saw a kid with a palm pilot, and I thought calculators were high tech remember calculator watches?. Change, progress - I don't know the difference anymore. I just know that instead of having paper crammed into a plastic bag or flowing out of my flip top desk, I have it piled in all areas of my life.

college ruled notebooks, blue med point pens and post-it notes are the only things on my school supply lists these days.
One last idea, do you think the passion for liberating office supplies is indicative of a childish desire for school supplies?

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