Way back (i mean really way back) in my Catholic grade school days - it usually combined a mixture of fun blended with a bit of nervous energy. The weeks leading up to school included time spent getting things on the school list: a new pair of penny loafers or Mary Jane's, a fall sweater - often in our prescribed navy blue with matching knee high wool socks, white little colored button up shirts and finishing the list was the classic pleated navy, black & white plaid pleated skirt.
I'd gather up used erasers, my freshly sharpened no.2 pencils, a small handful of magic markers and my little plastic 6" ruler - all tucked neatly into a little zippered pencil case. I'd get one new notebook. I can barely remember what they looked like when new but can recall the tattered notebook at the end of the year - scribbled with peace signs, names, reminders, phone numbers, and layered with stickers like "keep on truckin" or some rouge STP racing sticker my brothers slapped on.
But, I'd have to say that my fondest memories of back to school would come the morning school started. Seeing all of our (4-6 kids depending on the school age) brown paper lunch bags lined up on the counter - each with our names printed on the outside in my moms stylized penmanship. Each bag was filled with some version of PB&J sandwiches - super crunch peanut butter or smooth, then there were be the jelly only, peanut butter only, no crust, etc. each with fun little "snoopy & the the red baron" drawings on the opposite side of the brown bag. So special.
That brown bag line-up was such a fun vivid memory. It provided each of us with a bit of love on that first day of school, reminding us everything would be okay. If by lunch we began to doubt that morning cheer, we'd often be reassured when lunchtime rolled around - whereupon opening those little leaching brown bags we'd find a sweet little note from our mom tucked inside.
These days as I see "back to school" signs at the local stores and families shopping for shiny new No.2 pencils, iconic notebooks, and fancy zippering pencil bags - I think about the little things that are so important.
I hope these bright-eyed kids will be sent off with a love filled reminder that this new year of school will be okay. Whether it comes on a brown paper lunch bag, a 3x5 card or an electronic text sent while they are travleing on the school bus...the important thing is to deliver the message. They may not remember algebra, but that note is one they will remember.
cheers from the way back machine!