I was just spurred on to write about my kids' back to school adventures. You know, another of those events that I keep meaning to blog about but can't tear myself away from trashy books and mindless Facebook updates long enough to actually write anything. I finally realized that I could use having to update my blog as an excuse to "check out" for awhile. So I present to you my first entry in the Back to School Chronicles.
Before I could even send the kids back to school, I had to get the list of their school supplies. I remember the days of shopping for school supplies fondly. My favorite part of shopping was picking out my school supply box and my lunchbox. They would set the tone for the entire year. It was a decision not to be made lightly. Sure I was in love with the boys from Dukes of Hazard, but would I still want to see their faces staring up at me 3 months from now? And you don't want to pick your favorite cartoon character for your backpack only to get to school and find out that the other kids think it's childish. Despite the heavy decisions, shopping for school supplies was always fun.
Nowadays? Not so much. See, they've changed the way you buy supplies now. You no longer buy a box of crayons and a few pencils for your little minion to use. No, now you buy supplies for the WHOLE class. For the. entire. year. My kids are in 3rd, 5th, and 7th. Let me share with you their combined supply lists.
*2 pkgs tab dividers
*6 pkgs wide ruled paper
*5 spiral notebooks
*3 2" binders
*7 LG pkgs pencils
*2 pencil sharpeners
*4 lg erasers
*3 boxes 16 ct crayons
*3 pr scissors
*19 (yes, that's 19) glue sticks
*7 boxes of Kleenex
*4 pkg colored pencils
*colored construction paper
*2 pkg 9x18 manila paper
*12x18 manila paper (This is the first time I've ever even heard of manila construction paper. What in the world is it used for?)
*2 boxes quart bags
*2 zippered supply bags
*7 composition bks
*6 blk dry erase markers
*5 folders w/pockets and brads
I had to buy all this to send with my kids on the first day, which happened to fall on a Monday. I didn't get paid until the Friday before. What a surprise. So Saturday found me elbowing my way through the crowded, picked over school supply section of WalMart in an attempt to make sure my children wouldn't be singled out on their first day for not being prepared. I grabbed a cart and started throwing in whatever supplies I could reach and prayed they were on my list. I figured I would just grab everything I could and sort through it later. My cart couldn't fit in there among the sweaty bodies and grabby hands so I kept parking it at the end of the aisle. More than once I had to go back and rescue it from the supply vultures who kept trying to pick through my stuff in search of supplies that they hadn't been able to find yet. Once I even had to take it back from an employee who scolded me that they were instructed to pick up all stray carts. I felt like I was shopping on Black Friday. I was guarding my 20 cent pencils and 97 cent pens like they were they sale-priced Louboutins. Anyone came close and I growled out, "Mine!"
The store employees were trying to keep up with the crowds and the mess. As quickly as they could reshelve returns and misplaced items, they were being snatched off the shelves. I nearly shouted in triumph as I saw the manager hang a package of pink erasers back on the display. They were still swinging gently on the hook when I grabbed them and threw them in the cart. The manager remarked that he believed that was some sort of record for how quickly a reshelved item was gone again. That's right--I excel at guerrilla shopping!
I lapped the aisles for about 45 minutes, scanning the displays for discarded or replaced items that I could check off my list. I scored when I found a catch all cart that seemed to be the primary dumping ground for items people changed their minds on. (I can't actually be sure that it wasn't another shopper's cart but since no one body slammed me to get me away from it, I figured it was safe.)
Eventually I conceded defeat, endured the long check out line, and moved on to another WalMart. And then the dollar store. And eventually Target. I found most of the things on the list and had to reassure the kids that I would just have to buy the few things I missed after the stores restocked. Which should be around Easter.
In addition to spending the national debt on glue sticks and crayons, I also had to buy backpacks and lunch bags and a cart full of food to fill those lunch bags. Our stuff is still in storage in WA so I had to buy backpacks knowing that we have 3 perfectly good ones already. Grrrr! And because my kids won't. stop. growing. I had to buy them new clothes as well. Howdy's school has what they call "standard dress", which is an unofficial uniform. They have to wear slacks with belts and plain polo or other button up shirts--always tucked in, of course. See--the non-uniform uniform.
They showed up on the first day scrubbed and shiny and chock full of brand new pencils. And then Howdy, who is in middle school now and has 8 classes, started bringing home supply lists for his individual classes. I asked, "Can't you just use some of the supplies I already sent with you?" He informed me that he was specifically told that those supplies were to be used in his advisory class only. So I had to go out again for more folders, composition books and a PE uniform. I've been to WalMart so many times in the last week that any time I see that giant blue sign on the side of the highway, I have to grip the steering wheel because the car starts to turn off the exit on its own and my debit card lets out a scream of protest. If those plastic WalMart bags were edible, I could single-handedly wipe out famine in a third world country.
My only consolation is that they have now finished the first full week of school and it looks like we are done buying school supplies. That should give me approximately one week to save up and recover until they start bringing home the list of supplies they need for the sports teams and clubs they want to join. I'm starting to see the benefits of having children who are completely uninvolved.