Chuck Brooks: Let's head right back ... to school
Admit it! It's the first weekend in August and if you're a parent of a young one, you're excited about the idea your son(s)/daughter(s) will be heading back to the classroom soon for eight hours a day, five days a week! Your favorite song for August is "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year." Admit it!
Frankly, most kids are getting ready to return to their social element. Realistically, the education is secondary for them. It's a side benefit to seeing their friends on a daily basis again. Now they can text friends while sitting next to them versus being across town from one another. The drama that is adolescence will once again reignite in fiery fashion. Their two-and-a-half month adventure is nearing its annual inevitable end and once again, all will be right with the world.
The level of excitement has already begun in back-to-school areas of local stores. If you happen to be near one, observe. In the first couple weeks of August, you'll find parents with elementary-age children checking out the goods. Despite not soliciting assistance from their offspring, they're getting tons of advice on which pencils, which crayons and which markers to buy.
We didn't have the plethora of choices parents have today, but I remember getting a set of 64 crayons with an actual sharpener built right into the box. I, personally, loved the LARGE crayons. There were eight, non-toxic mind you, beautiful colors.
Here's a little secret. When I retired, I bought crayons and began coloring again. I bought a box of the eight large crayons I never use. I just pull them out, hold them, smell them and put them back in the drawer. I love my memories.
The excitement level comes just a little later in August for the middle-schoolers. In addition to their school supplies, they add the backpack to their excitement. It's all about the backpack. This was certainly an item we didn't have to deliberate over when we were kids. Our books were probably never heavier than a pound in the 1960s.
Backpacks can get very spendy. I saw one online for $99. Seriously? This line was in the description: "Water-resistant 500D nylon in dark shadow and black offers durability in a classic silhouette that's ready when you are."
There are backpacks that AREN'T ready when you are? Huh.
The final category of student, the high school student, will likely wait until Labor Day weekend to get school needs for the year. Their most difficult decision will be deciding which folders and three-ring binders to buy. Some will stew over which brand of pen they'll purchase. Others will struggle with "Do I buy wooden or mechanical pencils?"
They'll spend one-third of the time buying supplies versus taking days to figure out which school clothes to appear in on Day 1.
Oh yes, there's excitement brewing in the minds of the students anticipating Tuesday, Sept. 4.
I haven't mentioned the teachers, but trust me. I wasn't the only one in my career who got excited to go school shopping. That stayed with me throughout my career. Certainly shopping for school fueled the fire, but I also loved going down the pen aisle, trying to decide what I wanted to work with as the year began.
In college, I fell in love with a certain pen I could never be without. The Pentel Rolling Writer. Eventually, they disappeared from the shelves, and I'd have to order them through their homepage. Yes, I was obsessive about that. I'd spend close to $100 for my year's supply. I'd get a dozen black, a dozen green, a dozen red, a dozen blue, and a few purple, despite my disdain for that purple football team. I was an equal opportunity pen employer.
You'd be surprised to know there are a lot of teachers who will go into school early to begin prepping their rooms as soon as possible. I'm talking about coming in before workshop week, using their vacation time.
Yes, it serves to give them more time to work on other items during workshop week, but I also know these are people who are excited to return to their classroom. They're not excited about early mornings again nor the rigidity of a seven-hour schedule of class after class; they aren't excited about battling cellphone usage or struggling with enabling or uninvolved parents. The excitement for them is being with the kids again, hoping to make a difference in their lives.
Yup. Back-to-school ads are all over the place now. Can't escape 'em. But then, who really wants to? Bring ''em on! Once everyone has returned to school, the theaters and the zoo will be mine again. (Evil crazed mad scientist laugh.) "It's the MOST wonderful time of the year!"