I am no longer a participant in the annual scavenger hunt for school supplies. Not so long ago this time of year presented the familiar challenge of finding all the items on the list required by Daniel's school for him to attend and participate in learning. Pencils(a whole box) markers, colored pencils, paper, folders, ruler, protractor(what do they do with this thing) kleenex, and then the worst thing of all…
The black composition book.
It was the worst because it was never easy to find. And if you were a mother like me who was sometimes a little late in the game, the trip to Target proved fruitless because the seasonal "back to school" section would be completely trashed. Scrounging behind mostly empty, picked over boxes of "barbie" notebooks to find that illusive black "composition book" is an experience that stagnates in my memory as less than positive.
If you have been unfortunate enough to have this item land on your list I feel sorry for you.
What do they do with this thing?
Honestly, in all the years we participated in the back to school ritual I never once saw that composition book come home with anything written in it. In fact, once the prize was sent off to school it never returned. I began to believe that there was some sort of scholastic black hole that consumed hundreds of these things every year only to transport them through time and spit them back into a portal in Targets everywhere to start the thing all over again. Year after year we bought that book. Some years I wondered if it wasn't the same book, like recycled candy corn at Holloween.
By the time Daniel was in eighth grade I pretty much had the ritual down. We went to Target the first week in August rather than waiting until two days before school started. In fact, the ritual became one of those fun mother-son bonding experiences that I actually reflect on now with fondness. It often included lunch and deep discussions about life, but the quest for the composition book was always a frustrating key element in this bonding experience.
I thought that that little black book had left my life forever until it showed up again last year having hitched a ride home with my husband under the ruse that it was handed out at work with the instructions to use it in meetings. Apparently laptops were now deemed evil and forbidden in church meetings and replaced with the holier (and possibly less threatening) black composition book. For me, seeing it again was kind of creepy.
It sat, untouched on a bench in our living room for weeks. Like the mysterious missing socks in the dryer, I think it finally went back into the black hole from which it came because I haven't seen it since.
I don't miss scavenging for school supplies, but the days chatting about dinosaurs with a younger Daniel while hunting for just the right binder has been replaced with discussing Republicans and Democrats while shopping for just the right pair of shoes. Somewhere along the line the frustration of the task gave into the ritual of being together. And it is the ritual that is something I will probably miss when he graduates.