I know it’s a billion degrees outside. I know we’re all nursing gnarly cases of swamp crotch from the wet swimsuits we keep wearing because I never stop screaming about going to the pool.
But even so, I thought I’d tiptoe in here to check on my Ticonderogas.
You did get Ticonderogas, didn’t you? Pencils, I mean. You know, for school? Sharpened ones, like the pains you feel stabbing behind your eyes right now. I don’t know why, though. It’s only 11:30 p.m., so we’ve got plenty of time to get our act together before orientation.
You’re ready for orientation, right? The one for my class is at 2:04 p.m. tomorrow—not a moment before and not a moment after. You’ll have precisely eighteen minutes to throw my school supplies into their designated cubbies and bins.
You’ll also get to meet my new teacher! She’ll be one of the other bewildered-looking adults murmuring, How? How is it school time again?
But why do you look confused tonight? Surely you’re prepared. There was a reminder email. It was sent out at 9:55 a.m. last Monday while you were trying to get through a meeting despite the aforementioned swamp crotch situation.
How do I know about the reminder? Persimmon’s mom told me. She’s really on top of things.
Anyway, I know you’ve been getting ready for weeks, setting aside each and every brutally specific item on my grade level’s school supply list. I know you spared no expense because nothing is more important than my learning—other than my showing up every other kid in my class.
Did you know some kids have to try to survive with store-brand pencils that snap at the first stroke of a Scantron? I know you’d never make me that kind of kid. You bought five ten-packs of fancy pencils (the twenty-four packs were sold out). Good pencils. Pencils a kid can be proud of.
And everyone will know they’re mine because you’ve already affixed a label with my name to every single one of them. Right?
That was required. It was in the reminder, too. Here, Persimmon’s mom printed it out and I squished it into my day-camp lunchbox. It’s a little wet and smells like rotting watermelon, but she said, Just in case. Some of our grown-ups forget.
Not MY grown-up, I said.
Anyway, I can’t wait to stack those sharp, yellow, name-brand pencils in my one (1) five-by-seven inch, hard-sided pencil box, CLEAR ONLY, which you’ve certainly also remembered to label. Just like the composition books (six, wide-ruled, BLACK ONLY) and the crayons (four packs of twenty-four, CRAYOLA) and the scissors (three pairs, five-inch, POINTED).
I’m graduating to pointed scissors. Isn’t that exciting? Why aren’t you excited?
I’m beginning to get worried. Where are my sixteen (16) large glue sticks? Or my twenty-four (24) small glue sticks? Or my six-pack of Elmer’s glue?
Are you blinking at me because I’m shining this flashlight in your eyes? Or because—no, it couldn’t be—you forgot?
How could you forget? It’s not like orientation takes place on a completely random date some arbitrary period of time before the first day of school.
It’s not like the supply list was buried in an update email sent out sometime in July when you were balancing your work laptop on your knees at the (again, aforementioned) pool.
It’s not like the Target school supply section is picked over like a bright-yellow corrugated corpse, devoid of all but the dregs of learning necessities.
But even if it were, I know you’ll find a way to make it work. You’ll drag yourself out of bed, pour yourself a cup of coffee, call in late to the office, and trudge to as many stores as necessary to get whatever I need before 2:04 p.m. tomorrow. Because that’s what parents do.
And also because we all need crotch ointment anyway.