On Tuesday, my kids go back to school. Let me repeat that so you understand. ON TUESDAY, MY KIDS GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!! Can you tell that I’m excited?
Don’t get me wrong. I love summer break. Treating poison ivy and bug bites is one of my favorite past times. And what mom doesn’t love the back door continually opening and then slamming shut every 30 seconds? “I need to go to the bathroom. I need a drink of water. I forgot my this. I want my that. I scraped my knee. It’s hot outside. There are bees out there. Can I come in?” It’s like music to my ears.
My kids should be doing things like this but they are too busy coming in and out of the house to actually do this.
I know that I am speaking for everyone here when I say that the bestest, best part of summer vacation is the activity that truly highlights the end of it: the annual purchasing of school supplies.
I look back fondly to when I had just one child in school. The list of supplies needed to forge ahead one grade level was so streamlined; so easy. Now, with three children, the lists have multiplied and taken me over. I can’t organize them in my head. As I stood at Target last week, amid a sea of other mothers with the same dazed look on their faces as I had on my own, I realized something. School supply shopping sucks. And here’s why.
I would like to propose that a school supply fairy be invented by whoever invented all the other fairies.
There is nothing worse than shopping for at least 75 items in a store packed with other people while you have your children with you. It’s chaotic, loud and not for the weak of spirit, bringing out that nagging question mothers often ask themselves in times like these…”what would my life be like without kids?” Fantasies of meandering down a beach, or walking the streets of New York in really great shoes come to mind. You look skinny and put together; you have a great bag that does not contain headbands, goldfish and the random DS game; and you don’t even know what a composition notebook is. Then, some child in Target runs a cart into your heels and you’re painfully shocked back into reality. You brush off your 30 second fantasy life and are dropped back into the never ending aisle of #2 pencils.
Image from Rob Lang Images
I would love nothing more than to leave my kids home while I shop for three-subject notebooks, protractors, binders and scientific calculators, but I can’t because my kids are fashion oriented and must pick out folders and notebooks and pencils that all coordinate and fall into whatever theme they have designated as appropriate for this year. So they go with me.
Teachers Intentionally Try to Torture Us with Supplies that Don’t Exist.
If I had a dollar (or really even a nickel) for every time the supply list specified “five yellow highlighters” only to go to the store to find out they are sold in packs of four, I would be rich. And then, I could pay some poor underling to shop for me.
Why does this happen? Do teachers not ever shop for these items and understand the quantities that Crayola, Rose Art and Mead deem appropriate? Why do we need 12 markers when they come in packs of 8 or 10? Why does the expandable folder need to have seven pockets when most have 5 or 6? Is the goal to make me go slowly insane? To break me down? To make me cry like a baby and have everyone at Target stare at me with pity and disgust all at the same time? If I were in charge of the world (that would be fun), I would shorten supply lists to be something like this:
- Pens (any color; they can be retractable; go crazy)
- Colored pencils
- Scissors, glue and tape
- Ruler (it does not have to be transparent)
- As many notebooks as you have subjects (we trust you learned to count in your previous grades at this fine school)
- some large containment device for papers and other stuff (and yes, you can buy a Trapper Keeper)
- Wine or other cocktail of choice for the adult purchasing the specified supplies
We Now Are Responsible for All Classroom Supplies
Baby wipes, Clorox wipes, tissues, papertowels, dry erase markers, dry erasers, stickers, baggies, aluminum foil, plastic wrap. Need I say more?
As I get ready for the big first day of school, I am filled with anticipation. The house to myself, coffee in the quiet. Maybe even a sneak peak at daytime Bravo programming, which is off limits all summer long. And, of course, the loose supplies that are sent back home with my kids because they were one or two more than what was needed for the classroom.