"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." – Tom Hanks as Joe Fox in "You've Got Mail"
Oklahoma City in the fall inspires similar feelings at our house. The weather is still hot but we all look to autumn with its change of weather and routine.
August signals back-to-school and the promise of new beginnings. MetroFamily's editor, Hannah Schmitt, pointed that out in her opening note of our current edition. It's a familiar excited feeling each year that we all seem to remember, the possibility of making new friends and reconnecting with old ones after a summer of fun.
This year, I'll have a third-grader and a preschooler. Sam knows the back-to-school drill: alarm clocks, hurried mornings and freshly-pressed uniforms.
Isaac, though, is going to school — well, preschool — for the first time. He's been asking to go for a year already, even though the old "Can you touch your ear?" test shows us every time that he is still so very young.
"Don't call it my preschool," he scolds. "That means it's not real. I'm going to real school. It's for kids my age. I'm 6 now. And a half. It's true."
Isaac is 3. He insists his age is closer to Sam's, 8, which makes for some lengthy conversations with strangers.
"What will you do at school?," I prompt, searching his toddler face for any signs of apprehension, clues about what to expect.
"I will learn," he replies without hesitation. "I want to read. Can I also paint?"
There will be paint, I assure him, splashy watercolors and maybe easels or big blank sheets of manila paper. Reading comes later but there are books, stories read aloud and a group with whom to hear them. Friends, along with numbers and letters, are also part of the school experience. There will be lunch sacks, nap mats and jump ropes.
Imagination too has its moments, I'm sure, if not specifically mentioned within the preschool curriculum. Self-confidence is part of that very basic preschool equation too. Pride and independence somehow come along with ABCs and 123s, all that school entails. Like those big sheets of paper Isaac wants to see, he's brand new as a student, ready to express ideas and creativity.
I have heard that parents often feel apprehensive as their children head off to the classroom for the first time but I'm excited for Sam and Isaac. Crisp autumn days, bright yellow school buses and apples for the teacher are in their near future. Folders with dinosaurs and guitars and other boyish designs I would never choose await us on store shelves.
Today is the beginning of Oklahoma's annual tax free weekend. Armed with lists and coupons, the three of us will fulfill what's becoming a tradition: shopping for school supplies. Sure, I could order the school pack of pre-selected items culled for Sam's classroom and be done with it, but I'm more interested in the experience than the practical aspects of school year prep. I want to wander the aisles and let them choose their own tools for learning.
Composition notebooks, scented markers and the Big Box of 96 Crayola crayons top our current shopping list. New shoes have to be purchased and there's the fact that Sam isn't size small or medium but somewhere in between. It'll take time and effort to make a lot of small decisions together. Putting the supplies away gives them something to look forward to and a sense of ownership that seems like a good way to start the school year.
That will be our weekend, a different take on Oklahoma City family fun.
If you're looking for back-to-school events, click here. We're also hosting a giveaway with some items a preschooler or kindergartner would love, like storybooks, organic snacks and a $50 gift card to the learning tree.
Maybe I will feel nostalgia on Isaac's first day. I guess that means I should pick up an extra box of tissues just in case.