My New School Supplies, mid-1960’s:

I promise to keep my new 3-ring notebook as neat as it is today, as I decide if the English tab or the Social Studies tab should be the green one. I would be shocked if I knew that after dropping my notebook as I trip up the slippery steps onto the bus one rainy morning in early October, I will shove the scattered papers into my binder, holding it closed until I have time to put them back in their proper sections. After hours of their edges being exposed to the elements of the life of a harried student, they will get a hole or two hooked somewhere. I will never find the notes about cash crops in the South. Months will go by. June. I will never recover. But right now, I just blissfully know that this is the year I’m going to keep it all together.

My Daughter’s New School Supplies, present-day:

Other than the required two bottles of hand sanitizer that replace the school nurse of my youth, we don’t buy school supplies before school starts. This is because the art teacher will want a 3” binder with a pocket in the front but not the back, and the algebra teacher will take off a full letter grade if my kid doesn’t have a stenographer’s notebook with graph paper with red lines in the x direction and turquoise lines in the y direction by Monday. I don’t know if these teachers think that their being so anal will cause their students to be organized. I don’t know what my daughter’s hopes and dreams for these new school supplies are.

But by early October…

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