When I was in elementary school, shopping for school supplies meant running up to the five-and-dime store on the corner for a Big Chief writing tablet and a pencil box.

When my kids were in elementary school, shopping for school supplies was one of my favorite traditions.

I won’t speak for my children, but I loved buying crayons and fat, colored markers … new lunchboxes … tiny scissors … packs of brightly colored construction paper … thousands of glue sticks …

Buying Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer was not as much fun, especially as these did not seem to prevent my kids from bringing home every virus known to man.

These days, there is only a high-school junior left in the house. Instead of shopping for school supplies, I spent more time filling out forms, signing legal waivers, filling out more forms and writing checks.

This year’s school supply list was essentially:

• Binder with dividers

• Binder with dividers

• Binder with dividers

• Binder with dividers

• Binder with dividers

• Something to write with.

Not even any hand sanitizer.

Thankfully, we already had the “scientific calculator (such as TI-30) or ACT-approved graphing calculator (such as TI-84).”

I put off shopping until the night before school started. The school supply aisles were almost bare. The only binders left were black, blue and pink.

I really wanted to buy a box of crayons for myself.

Roaming the aisles with me were a Chinese exchange student and her host mom, who was explaining all the different types of binders. Later, I saw them in the frozen foods aisle, where the mom was explaining what a taquito was.

As I was wrapping up my school supply shopping, a young boy rushed up to my cart and breathlessly asked, “Ma’am, do you know where the prongs for folders are?”

I was confused. Why would this child need just the prongs?

It took me a while to figure out he was looking for “pronged folders.”

He finally found his folders, with the help of his big sister, who teased him mercilessly the whole time.

And then we all headed for the checkout lane, ready to be schooled for one more year.

Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or

Features Editor Lisa Davis: 256-235-3555.