Archive for Sunday, August 3, 2008

Shiny new school supplies trigger pleasant sensory overload

August 3, 2008


Boomer girl

For some women, the sweet smell of a newborn baby's head awakens long-suppressed maternal urges. For me, it's school supplies.

How I adore this time of year!

The intoxicating aroma of freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils. Shiny new safety scissors that couldn't cut through whipped cream but look so adorable in chubby little hands. Loose-leaf notebook paper - wide- or thin-ruled, I'm not picky - and glossy vinyl binders. Oh, and Trapper Keepers! Lord have mercy, how I love the Trapper Keepers!

The urge to mother children under 10 engulfed me like a tidal wave while searching for bridal shower invitations at Office Depot this week. There I stood, struggling with the big decision ("Do I go with the 2-up cards with the cheery Gerbera Daisies or the elegant 'Silver Shimmer,' four to a sheet?") when, out of the corner of my eye, I spied it a few aisles down - a huge end cap brimming with spiral notebooks in a rainbow of colors.

Angels sang in six-part harmony. My knees, literally, went weak.

Abandoning the invitations, I gravitated helplessly toward the display. Rounding the corner, I hit the mother lode. Or should I say, the mother lode hit me. Glue sticks by the gross! Washable markers by the dozen! A dizzying array of backpacks!

I felt faint. Thank goodness for the high-back executive office chair in genuine Italian leather across the way.

The chair was like an upholstered time machine with solid wood arms.

Suddenly, I was a 7-year-old girl in full Catholic school regalia - crisp white blouse with Peter Pan collar, plaid jumper with embroidered crest, bleached bobby socks and spit-polished saddle shoes. Sitting on the floor in my bedroom, I surveyed my school supplies, splayed out in front of me, like a queen reviewing her subjects.

There were Big Chief tablets and big fat crayons, soft-leaded pencils and hard pink erasers, bottles of Elmer's glue and a wooden 12-inch ruler, a large 3-ringed binder in standard-issue blue, cigar box pilfered from Grandpa's house, jumbo boxes of Kleenex, and a saddlebag, newly stitched in striped canvas, for the side of my soon-to-be assigned desk.

Lifting the Big Chief tablet to my face, I inhaled deeply, the potent smell of paper and ink leaving an indelible mark on my brain. (Little did I know, Big Chief was the gateway drug to a harder, more insidious stimulant - the highly addictive mimeographed copy. By age 10, I would join legions of hopelessly hooked classmates in taking desperate nose hits from our weekly geography quizzes.)

Shaking off sensory overload, I abandoned the ergonomically correct chair with built-in lumbar support to examine the notebooks. The assortment of styles and designs dazzled the eye, and I said to myself, "I can't wait to come back with the kids!"

"But wait!" I thought. "Reality check on aisle seven! I don't HAVE kids. Not little ones, anyway. My children's friends are getting married, for crying out loud. We're light years past No. 2 pencils. This calls for some creative thinking:"

So, once again, readers, I invite you to loan me your kids. Just for a day of shopping. Five or six hours, tops.

I know, I know. I made the same request last Easter but, I assure you, my motives are pure. You won't find my name on any national registry of offenders. I'm not interested in your kids.

All I want (it's so humiliating to admit this publicly) is to smell their school supplies.

If you're uncomfortable, I won't even pick them up at your house. We can meet on neutral ground. I'm easy. Just bring the little brats - er, I mean, tykes - their classroom lists, a hundred bucks in cash and I'll do the rest. Hours later, I promise to return them, no worse for the wear, backpacks full and ready to roll on the first day of school.

And here's the best part: For my services, I'll ask for absolutely nothing in return. Except a Trapper Keeper. Some things are non-negotiable.

- Cathy Hamilton is a 52-year-old empty nester, wife, mother and author, who blogs every day at


Kookamooka 9 years, 9 months ago

Cathy, There are PTO's in town that organize a school toolbox program where they buy all of the supplies on the list for kids that pay ahead of time and assemble their backpacks for pick up before the first day. It sounds like a wonderful way for you to get your school supply fix. In fact, I would bet, after putting together 30 or 40 preordered backpacks, your "fix" would last a few years. Check with some of the local schools. Hillcrest and Sunset Hill are two I know of.

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