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Guest column | Shelley Kappeler

A third-grader's desk is his cluttered castle

It's taken me several days to recover from the last day of school.

For three days my third-grader brought home a bulging bag of junk from his school desk. On the first day, he said, "Our teacher had us clean out our desks."

On the second day, however, his bag was still overflowing, yet a boy in his class who gets off the same bus had barely a piece of paper in his backpack.

"I still had some stuff," John David understated.

On the last day, he couldn't even close the bag, let alone lift it off the ground. Luckily, his mother was there with the car.

Otherwise, he would have needed the handicap bus to haul the backpack up to his seat with the automatic lift.

During the last week of school, I took a photo of the desk, which I nicknamed "The Apartment" because of his odd and quirky attachment to what went on inside and around that space.

It was bizarre what finally came home. Of course he thinks we're not throwing out a single solitary thing.

That small space contained:

• Four unused plastic three-prong folders with pockets, which were oh-so-important on that supply list.

• Two unused spiral notebooks.

• A vocabulary folder that looked like it had been eaten by a grizzly bear or a boy trying to impress his new gal, Claire.

• One box of 24 Crayola crayons, never used. One box of 36 colored pencils, never used.

• One box of smelly markers, replaced three times.

• Two rulers.

• A third ruler with the presidents on it, with several Republicans crossed out.

• A coveted quarter from 1982.

• A peppermint candy from Christmas. And Halloween M&Ms, unopened.

• The Sunshine State book list.

• Graded homework for his neighbor, Rafael, that he never got to see.

• A writing assignment for a girl named Abby who sat way across the room.

• Eight napkins for snacks he evidently never felt were necessary.

• Twenty-seven Patriot Points of Pride (good behavior cards) he never turned in.

• Seven broken pencils, broken erasers, a Pottery Barn eraser he was too cool to use, still in the side pocket from the first day of school.

• An empty glue stick.

• A used highlighter.

• An intricate chain of 32 paperclips.

• A pet notebook, named "Mick," with appropriate third-grade entries: "I'm bored today."

• His recorder musical instrument. (Actually intact.)

• All of his workbooks: science, math, reading and a second reading workbook, because his school takes 90 minutes of reading seriously!

• Two birthday invitations that he never gave to his mother. (Apologies to those parents.)

• Three paper footballs.

• His planner.

• Twenty-nine issues of Time for Kids magazine.

• His glasses and Thermos.

• His pencil box, all of his writings since March (with many notes that said "lack of focus") and a Father's Day craft shoved in for good measure.

• And, lastly, a unique weapon catapult system made from a clothespin, several ballpoint pens and two erasers that guarded The Apartment and served as some kind of motion-detection device so that if you stole that vintage quarter, you got poked in the eye and you were off to the clinic.

How could his teacher think he could focus on anything else when he had all that on which to concentrate?

Shelley Kappeler lives in Land O'Lakes. Guest columnists write their own views on subjects they choose, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.

A third-grader's desk is his cluttered castle 06/15/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 11:42am]
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