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Not Just Pencils: Best Back to School Supplies

By Melissa Summers

It seems even the kids in my little group of friends are ready to go back to school. My children are punching each other in the face, not because they’re fighting, but because they’re so bored. My girlfriend’s three daughters spent the other day laying on the floor with their new backpacks on asking if it’s time for school yet? My other friend’s kids are acting like an old married couple, finishing each other’s sentences.

It’s time for school. It’s also time for pencils! When you’re attempting to master writing the alphabet, you’re going to want something in your pencil box to make you smile.

My sister in law sent along these personalized pencils for my kids one year. Not a lot makes my kids happier than seeing their name on just about anything. I might even get them to eat chicken if I could find a way to tattoo their names on it. Hmm…

Scented pencils? In my day we only had scratch and sniff stickers which always smelled the same (like strawberries) and we liked it.

These donut shaped erasers will ease the pain of undoing all your hard work.

I’m honestly not sure how I got out of elementary school without this gummy bear pencil sharpener. I made it through, but maybe it explains all those years of angst. Or not.

Tomorrow we conquer, or at least look at, back to school anxiety.


Published August 31, 2006. Last updated August 14, 2018.
Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • Sara

    August 31, 2006 at 11:22 am

    Yeah! So glad to see this column.
    I love that the picture of Madison’s backpack on the Pottery Barn site actually has an example with her name on it.

  • Teresa

    August 31, 2006 at 12:18 pm

    Our school supply lists this year decided on our pencils for us – down to the brand. There will be now colors or designs or scents for my group. Their teachers required yellow standard No 2s. So sad.

  • julia

    August 31, 2006 at 4:36 pm

    What’s wrong with character backpacks? You’re wound just a wee bit too tight. I’d hate to see you put your anxieties on social status put on your children.

  • melissaS

    August 31, 2006 at 5:44 pm

    I just think they’re tacky. It has nothing to do with my “anxieties on social status…” just a matter of personal taste.
    Viva La Character Backpack…on your kids.

  • pixie sticks

    August 31, 2006 at 6:17 pm

    And you’d be and right. Character backpacks are tacky and stifle the imagination (mine and theirs) and probably cause other horrible things – like tooth decay.

  • Becky

    August 31, 2006 at 8:42 pm

    I allow the character backpacks, but I draw the effing line there. No characters shoes in this house, ever. My kids can join yours in therapy.

  • madge

    August 31, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    AHHH! No characters!
    But, of course, my kid isn’t even three years old. So, you know, I could be eating my words. Soon.

  • melissaS

    August 31, 2006 at 10:18 pm

    madge: character items are an inevitability, thus my joy at avoiding them this year.

  • amy

    August 31, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    My cunning 4-year-old talked me into buying the Hello Kitty shoes just last month, knowing full well that I never let her get the character shoes. And now she’s the proud owner of a Dora backpack. And I no longer have any standards.

  • melissaS

    August 31, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    Four is late onset Amy. You fought the good fight.
    (We had Hello Kitty tennis shoes and a pair of Barbie sandals before.) (Also a Fantastic four backpack, an elmo and grover backpack, a Hello Kitty backpack, a Batman lunchbox….etc etc etc.)

  • pixie sticks

    September 1, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    I’m extra mean. I won’t even let my kids be “characters” for Halloween. bwaaahhh. Of, course, they’re only three and one at this point so it’s not really a fair fight!

  • Isabel Kallman

    Isabel Kallman

    September 1, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    Thank you for visiting and I see that you have started an interesting exchange.
    However, I must share that I know Melissa very well and one of the many reasons why I and many others admire her is because she would be the first to admit if she were ‘passing along any social status anxieties to her children.’
    The reasons why I hired Melissa were because she is incredibly insightful and a wonderful writer to boot. In addition, she has great taste, is a complex woman (which many of us are), and is refreshingly honest.
    I hope you will visit again and see why she is so beloved.
    – Alpha Mom CEO
    – mom to preschooler with Spiderman backpack

  • Paula

    September 8, 2006 at 8:32 am

    Oh my gosh, I’m so jelly, Melissa has the CEO of Alpha Mom getting her back! You go girl.
    I fought but lost the battle with character items. We have darth vador shoes, dora purses, spiderman shirts, spiderman rolling backpack…I just couldn’t deal with the screaming and whining. At least Barney is still banned from this house.