Someone once told me that of the five senses, smell triggers the most memory. Back to school shopping is a favorite pastime of mine, and a present-day privilege. As I was labeling, sorting, and occasionally smelling supplies for my two oldest children, my mind was transported to that magical back to school time.
K-Mart and Payless were my hot spots, with me purchasing more shoes than necessary. Penny Loafers, Pound Puppy Sneakers and Saddle Shoes (I called them “shadow shoes,” and it took my mom a little while to figure out what I meant) were all-time favorites. I’m convinced I only wanted Penny Loafers because of the way they shined on Cecilia’s feet — a cute, blonde and green-eyed classmate of mine in second grade. I wanted to be like her.
A dear friend of our family, Phil, took me shopping at the beginning of every August, for clothes and supplies. As a parent now, I realize how much this blessed my family. At the end of our time together, I modeled many fabric combinations for my parents and sister – some more colorful than others – in our living room. The smell of the pleather and feel of cool, fresh cotton is still vivid.
There was one rule I could not break before the first day of school: I did not wear or use a single item of clothing until the morning of. This was true for undergarments, too. Everything had to be brand spankin’ new when I entered the classroom! As a firstborn, of course, this was a self-imposed expectation.
I see it in my son as well. He is saving his school shoes for that special day. My daughter, on the other hand, has worn hers a couple of times. Their excitement, coupled with nervousness, is palpable as they share what they are looking forward to this academic year.
Back to School with All Five Senses
My prayers for them focus on their safety, being challenged, and love of learning. Whether you are a parent, student, teacher, or any combination of those, may you continually see, hear, taste, touch, and yes, smell, the magic this school year!