I bought a box of pencils yesterday. We don’t need them; we could build the world’s tallest Jenga game with the pencils already overtaking our junk drawer. But that chemical they pipe into the Back-to-School aisles (they do that, right?) wafted over to me, and suddenly I had an urge to buy pencils–not cute ones, definitely not mechanical ones (the horror), but the classics, their long hexagonal bodies painted that sleek school bus yellow that perfectly matches every back-to-school accessory. Pencil Yellow against Marbled Composition Book Black? On point. Pencil Yellow with Eraser Pink? A pair made in heaven. Pencil Yellow complimented by the pleasure that is Faded Sky Blue Lines Against Crisp Notebook Paper White? Fall fashion inspiration, if you ask me. Googling Pencil Yellow Sweaters stat because my weathered blue jeans are begging for the color of the season to pair them with, and if I can’t satisfy the express-yourself-in-pencil-yellow craving, I will be tempted to wear this, and I’m not even kidding.
Wait, I found this. Whew. We’re good. And because my literal interpretation of seasonal fashion needs to wave its flag, I’ll add these. That’s a half staff flag, down from the full-flying alphabet cardigan, thank you. Moral of the story? I’m August Nesting, a bit like prenatal nesting but the school version. Because sending kids to school is a lot like having a baby–you prepare for new routines, you buy little clothes, you pack a bag, you get all excited the night before “due date” and then you push them out into the world and you cry about it. And, for the record, I take nesting to the moon. If you need an example, I suggest you read the brussel sprouts and wall-painting episode, pre Dash, 2013. I needed an intervention.
We’re in similar territory now, illustrated in a conversation this past weekend that went like this:
Me: “I’ll be right back. I’m going to run to Target for a drawer organizer.”
Brett: “I thought you just bought a drawer organizer yesterday.”
Me (spoken fast, fluid and without a breath in true Vince Vaughn monologue fashion): “That was for Nella’s underwear drawer and this is for the girls’ hair stuff, but I think I’ll get one for Lainey’s sock drawer too because she wears socks on P.E. days and remember how awful those mornings were when we searched for socks, and SOCKS! Oh my God, I need to order more socks and P.E. shoes, I should probably wash those up or do you think she needs new ones? And speaking of P.E., what do you think about tennis lessons this year because you know if we’re going to do lessons we’re going to need to get things lined up now and ballet? What do we think about ballet? And Nella, should we try it again? She needs new tights, we need a better place for Lainey to do homework, I should line up some dentist appointments, I need school lunch ideas, where’s the pencil sharpener, and oh my God are you sorry you married me?” Cue long gasp for more breath. Exit stage right.
And the weird thing is, I love it. I love this crazy feeling. I love sniffing pencils, I love running my hands over smooth pages in new notebooks, I love using my most perfect handwriting to fill all the dates in my August calendar, fully aware I’ll never look at them and show up late. I did the same thing packing perfect diaper bags my kids’ first week of life, knowing weeks later I’d just shove a diaper in my purse, wet some paper towel for wipes and call it a day. But the nesting! We’re mama birds! We must nest!
Who cares what happens in November. In August, our drawers are full of socks, our lunch Thermoses are mold-free, our designated homework spots do not include shoving stacks of bills aside and scratching week-old peanut butter off the counter.
We will face the motherhood ritual of sending kids back to school fully prepared, wearing cute pencil yellow sweaters that will soon be buried under mounds of laundry. But not today.
Here’s a fun hint. Give the big teacher gift up front. First day. Don’t wait for Christmas or Teacher Appreciation Day (do it again then). Attach it with a note that says:
In case our enthusiasm and preparedness withers over the year (it will), this is to remind you that we are still in the game. We may lose homework folders, forget money for the Book Fair and make up the lower quartile of the Annual PTO Wrapping Paper Sale Contest, but we already appreciate what you do every day and are committed to trying our very best to support you. Feel free to remind us if we need to step up our game. Also, please fill in the following and send home so we know how to occasionally make your day a little brighter throughout the year.
Favorite Starbucks Drink:
Favorite Candy Bar:
Favorite Online Stores:
Favorite Candle Scent:
Favorite Lunch Spot and what you order there:
2 Things You Need for Your Classroom:
P.S. Please make note of our daughter’s clean backpack today, her organized desk and the fact that we are on time and ready to go on the first day of school. We are those kind of people regardless of how we may or may not slip up. Remember that.
Two weeks until game time. You know what that means? Today’s back-to-school craze is just Braxton Hicks.
This little one is going to be doing a couple days of preschool this year, and he’ll be facing it with ferocious shoes that screamed “Dash.”
And for those who’ve asked, Nella is moving up a level at her preschool and completing another full year there, a decision based on the same criteria we use for all of our kids–what we as her parents feel is the best place for her to thrive. We are excited to learn more and grow more, and next year we’ll be equally excited to take that learning and growing to kindergarten.
And one more flap of the festive back-to-school flag. I bring you cool lunch boxes! Shop away. Don’t forget the drawer organizers.
1. Cat Pack by Little JJ Cole
2. Bright Stripes by Wildkin
3. Waterproof Dishwasher Safe Personalized Labels from Minted (LOVE these and just ordered them for all three kids. We lost a couple Thermos cups last year and got someone else’s cup sent home once.)
4. Road Trip Zippee Lunch Tote by Sugarbooger
5. Log Cabin, Birdhouse and Diner Lunch Bags by Jane Jenni
6. Insulated Thermos Drink Cups
7. Unicorn Lunch Bag by Skip Hop
8. Vintage Alphabet Lunch Sack by Sugarbooger
9. Iguana Lunch Bag by 5 Sprouts
10. Police Car Lunch Kit by Thermos
11. Newspaper Lunch Bag by Good Bag
12. Fox “What’s For Lunch” Bag by Hanna Andersson