Third grade supplies have lessons for adults

Joan Clayton

While cleaning out some old boxes the other day, I found some old school pictures, Bible school certificates, a red reader from first grade and my first grade class picture with all of us standing on the steps of Meserve School in Kansas City, Kan. I even found an old faded school supply list from my third grade year. After 45 years, I don’t need those third grade supplies, but that list symbolized some items that might be appropriate for adulthood in a hypothetical way.
That supply list included a cigar box for supplies, a wooden ruler, Elmer’s glue, an art gum eraser, crayons and a box of Kleenex. That list was for childhood. Adults often deal with challenging situations and resulting emotions and a look at that old school supply list might bring some similarities for adult life on a more abstract level.
As children in elementary school, a cigar box was used to keep one’s school supplies and resources organized for easy accessibility. As adults, our resources are family, friends and community. There are larger resources at a greater level. These are defined for most of us in the parameters of faith that houses the framework of support for life.
Then there was the wooden ruler. In elementary school it was easy to draw straight lines with a ruler as a guide. Yet sometime, somewhere along the way in life, we have to measure what we think and how we feel in regard to morals, values, attitudes and life in general. One can with a mental ruler evaluate, analyze, assess, consider, and review what is heard and learned and experienced in adult life.
Don’t forget the art gum eraser. Adults probably don’t need an eraser every day but some of us may need mental erasers.
I failed third grade. As an adult I have had to learn from many past failures. I have had to erase those failing events over the years from my mind and “press on” as the Apostle Paul wrote.
Then there were crayons. Nothing was as wonderful as the smell of a brand new box of crayons! We may not need crayons in adulthood. If we just stop to notice, there are tremendous colors in this world that God has given us.
Finally, a box of Kleenex was on the list. That was a necessity in third grade. As adults, we might still need access to those. When loved ones die or life changes, I have cried. Sometimes emotional hurts have been so deep that no tears came. Nonetheless, my heart was sobbing. We adults may still need a box of Kleenex from time to time.

Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at:
cbrandon@plateautel.net