Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's Like Christmas Shopping, but with Office Supplies

I can always tell it's September. Around the last week of August, I always fight bouts of depression. It takes me a while to figure out that it is caused by all the Back-to-School frenzy. You would think I would be over this by now. I haven't been in school since I finished my B.A. in 1991. My kids have never been to school, unless you count the afterschool juggling workshops I used to do in various districts. Or their religious instruction classes. In that case, they have seen the inside of schools.

And yet, I still get sucked into the melancholy that is the end of summer. The supposed loss of freedom. Crowded stores full of people buying office supplies. Yes, I was in one of those stores. I like one particular brand of Uniball pen (Jetstream) which, in our area, seems to only be sold in Staples. And I went with Sierra, so of course we "needed" to buy some folders and glue as well. As I stood on line, I listened to a couple of women lamenting how different teachers want specific brands/sizes of notebooks, binders, crayons, etc. All I wanted were the pens. I wondered what happened to all of the notebooks, binders, crayons, etc. that these students used last year. Where do they go? I usually reuse things until they are used up, falling apart, turning to nubs and stubs. How wasteful to ask parents to buy new stuff. What message are we sending to our children?

Schools have such a lasting impact on us. For those of us who didn't homeschool, they had us at the most impressionable time of our lives six hours per day, five days per week. At least I had summer vacation. These days, summer reading lists can be found in every library and bookstore. School seems to follow children, haunting every aspect of their lives. To this day, when I'm anxious about something, I STILL have the dream about trying to find the room for a final exam and it's a class I didn't go to all year. I'm over 40 years old! When will this stop?

I do admit to buying one notebook this year for Marina. She's going to take English 101 at the local community college beginning next week. I face a new chapter in her life and I'm not too sure I'm ready for it.

For my own preparation, I am always looking for inspiration as I continue nurturing Sierra's child-led education and kind of unschooling Chase (complicated story). I'm finally reading Secrets of a Buccaneer Scholar by James Marcus Bach, which Chase read back in May. The September edition of the Carnival of Unschooled Life is up at The Expanding Life, and there are several inspiring links for those of us looking for more educational freedom for our children. Check it out.


MrsMamaHen said...

Oh my heavens! I HAD that dream a couple months ago!!! I didn't even remember it until I read your post just now. It was some kind of "health" class. So you *really* know it was a nightmare! LOL

Susan Gaissert said...

Thanks for the link to the carnival. Your post here really resonated with me. My daughter knows teens who didn't really have any summer vacation, between leadership camp (as my husband say, "Is EVERYBODY supposed to be leader?") and thick sets of over-the-summer work.

My daughter and I both love paper and pens and pencils and index cards and journals, etc. And we actually use them. So, I do stock up on the back-to-school sales. I enjoy being the only mom in the store who doesn't look frazzled, though. : )

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