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An ode to office supplies

Submitted by on Saturday, 10 January 2009 No Comment

Pawpaw thought he was being sly, but I figured him out.

That didn’t diminish my love for the gift the day my burly grandfather showed up with a three-ring blue canvas binder filled with notebook paper — big kid paper! — and a collection of ballpoint pens in more colors than I  could imagine. At 4, I wasn’t eligible for a Crayola 64 pack yet.

“Look what I found on your porch!” he said. “Someone left you a present.”

I grabbed the goodies, plopped on the living room floor and happily scribbled away.

It’s a chicken-and-egg issue from there out.

Even that young age, I loved squirreling away stray paper. I’d pilfer a notepad and scrawl my grocery list as Mom wrote hers — I think my penmanship was actually better back then.

Was I doomed to be a writer and office-supply addict because Pawpaw was a dealer of the particular drug I craved? Or was the craving inborn?

Either way, I’m passing the addiction along to the guys.

Which is why our big shopping excursion of the week was a trip last night to Office Max, where we loaded up on enough office supplies to keep any business running for the next year, assuming the economy doesn’t do it in first.

You’d think that after yesterday’s paperwork debacle I would have been forever burned out on any forest by-product or its accessories.

I recovered when I saw the 150-crayon Crayola tower on sale. “Oooh, Mommy, can we get it?” Big  Guy asked. I remembered a 4-year-old jazzed by ballpoints and thought of our bag of crayon shards at home and agreed.

The 150-pack – the 64-pack plus an assortment of glittery and metallic crayons in a case that telescopes up tier-cake style – joined neon paper, matching envelopes and markers in the cart. We added a stacking tray, because I’m sick of everything falling in my face, and construction paper, because when Big Guy’s told me he needs to have what Mrs. A has at school if he’s going to help teach Boots.

It’s not all extravagance and altruism on my part. It’s also a three-part Evil Mommy trick.

At 3 1/2, Boots needs to learn the fundamentals of writing – basic circles and lines — and I’m not big on drill-and-kill. I have copies of Big Guy’s old preschool worksheets, and Boots loves doing his “homework” as Big Guy does his. He loves it far more than his brother does, in fact.

But he’s better motivated when there’s a practical purpose. He mastered circles when he wanted to draw a smiley face, not when there was one staring at him on a worksheet.

Big Guy is going to fight homework until the day he dies — or until it kills me, whichever comes first. But he’ll readily draft a letter or create artwork when it’s something that makes more sense to him than mindlessly writing the same words he wrote all morning in school.

And we promised Dad we’d write every day while he’s gone. If the guys say Daddy wants letters on colored paper mailed in pretty envelopes, who am I to dispute that? They’re guys — they know better than I what a guy wants.

What these guys want is to learn. They just don’t know it, and it takes an old-time paper pusher to show them the way.

Thanks, Pawpaw. Memories of the pile of paper you covertly delivered decades ago were a handy hint yesterday.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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