This weekend we went Back to School Shopping. I hate back to school shopping. I love summer and to me it’s always the herald that rings in the end of our carefree days. A taunting voice echoing in my head “Back to School. Back to never having enough time. Back to feeling like you are missing out on their childhoods. Back to dreading phone calls. Back to always feeling just shy of good enough.” So obviously, I probably need therapy (or a stiff drink), but I am very careful to not push my hatred of the beginning of the school year, I pump it up in my excited I’m-trying-to-talk-you-into-being-thrilled about this voice. (You may have noticed I use this voice a lot) I’m all “Cool, new teachers! Awesome, new friends! Ooo, want to pick out folders? Yea, let’s get some cool new stuff for school! I wonder what cool things you’ll get to do/see/learn this year?” Blah, blah, blah. Inside I’m scared, every year I approach teachers all bight eyed, full of hope, maybe this year will be different, but by November I am wishing I could quit my job and home school all three of them. Apparently I am not the only one who gets miffed with the school. All of this trauma starts for me every year with the supplies lists. It seems like that shouldn’t be such a horrible thing but, if you’ve never seen one of these, let me lay a little crazy on you for a minute…
These lists always contain the basics, stuff I have no problem, by the way, purchasing for my children. Items like loose leaf notebook paper, they specify a preference for Wide ruled vs College, but no worries, or book bags (always with this written beside it: NO WHEELS! Apparently wheels will be the death of us all) also no big, I buy them book bags every 2 years -saves money and helps teach that we have to take care of our things. Then they get sneaky. (they being whoever writes these lists) Pseudo basics. What you ask? The list will say: 1 box 12 washable Crayola Markers. That seems like a basic, right? I made this assumption with GirlChild in Kindergarten, I was so naive. I sent her with a box of RoseArt (you know the ones on sale right this minute for $0.50 a box as opposed to the $1.17 Crayolas at Wal-Mart?) 12 Washable Markers. I wrote her name on the box with Sharpie, stuck them in her book bag along with her other supplies and sent her skipping off to school. They sent them back. Along with a note. Have you been the recipient of many notes or perhaps emails that drip from their written word with judgment, disdain, and patronizing tone? I know a few teachers who are great at it. I will paraphrase the note (since it was 8 years ago now) but it is not the only note to the same effect I have received from a teacher regarding school supplies, so it goes about like this:
Please send the requested Crayola 12 pack Washable markers with your daughter immediately. I am sure it is important to you that she be adequately supplied each and every day of school in order to not hamper her learning this year.(that last sentence is a direct quote, BTW) As per ABC County School policy we place all school supplies in bins for the entire class. Do not continue to write GirlChild’s name on her supplies. All markers, etc will be placed in their appropriate bins and we do not want the children to argue over the quality of brand of their supplies, and after all, I am sure you would not want GirlChild to be the child who brought the inferior markers.
If you can’t see what’s wrong with the above note, please stop reading, walk away from my web page, we can’t be friends.
For the rest of us… Really?! How many 5-year-old “brand snobs” do you know? Have you ever heard (or read I suppose) such complete crap? And toss in a little Mommy Guilt, wow, f you too Mrs. Soandso. I have received a note along these lines any time I have not sent in exactly what was on the list, down to the brand. (At this point I have accepted defeat and just buy the damn Crayolas for the school and we use perfectly good whatever brand at home)
Other Pseudo basics (these items don’t belong to your kid, they belong to the whole class, which is my problem. I don’t mind buying supplies for my kid. I will even donate a few items to the “wish list”. But I don’t want to contribute an entire additional child’s worth of supplies to each of my children’s classrooms):
*BTW these are real examples & quantities requested on Supply lists for at least one of my children*
12 solid colored pocket folders-no fasteners (I have never seen one of my kids use more than 4 in a school year and that includes the year that BoyChild II lost his “homework folder” and I had to buy him another one, right, not the teacher replaced it from the class bins, I had to buy another folder, in orange specifically)
15 glue sticks (I want to know who is eating the glue, cause if each of 30 children sends 15 glue sticks, plus the Elmer’s liquid glue on that year’s list, that’s a lot of glue)
12 pack Crayola Colored pencils (again with the brand prejudice)
7 Composition notebooks-black and white only (That is just lame, in my opinion)
6 packages of #2 pencils (again, who is eating these supplies, each package has at least 12 pencils, x 6, x 30 kids…)
Minimum 30 black/blue ink erasable pens (these are impossible to find & almost as hard to write with, why are we still bothering with them?)
That’s obviously not all, but you get the idea, I’m sure. Then they toss Non-supplies on the list. What are Non-supplies you ask? Things the children do not use, that are on the supply list, not the wish/donate/please list, the you-must-have-all-of-these-things-on- the-first-day-or-you-are-interfering-with-your-child’s-schooling list.
Again these are actual “supplies” and quantities from years past.
3 reams copy paper (this one has appeared many times, my problem is despite me sending the paper, none of these kids can operate a copy machine. Maybe this year I’ll send 4 and a request for extra practice…)
7 packages of Post-it notes (so that the teacher can send as many disdain filled notes as she/he likes)
4 bottles hand sanitizer (#1 I have a child who can’t use this stuff. #2 why is this ok but sunscreen is a dangerous topical drug? #3 And again with the supply drinking…)
Paper clips/staples/red ink pens/dry erase markers (again things I would totally donate, but be real, none of these things are being used at my kids desk)
And then the completely ridiculous: (I feel like these mostly stand on their own ridiculous feet despite their craft potential)
200 small-dessert sized- paper plates
2 boxes snack sized ziplock bags
4 boxes sandwich sized ziplock bags
Inexpensive small toys for our Prize Box- minimum of 10
2 packages Brown paper lunch bags
See what I mean? I am poor. That’s no one’s fault but my own, I get that but why add to that burden? Each year I work extra shifts in order to pay for these lists. This is not even covering the new clothes that kids end up needing each year, I’m not talking expensive clothes, I mean the jeans I bought this weekend at $7.50 a pair at the consignment store (Once Upon a Child– I love them) for BoyChild I who gained 3 inches in height and 22lbs in weight this summer and no longer owns a single item of clothing for school that fits. All in all I spend an average of $125 per child. I make about $700 every two weeks, before I do things like buy $300 worth of meds and therapy co pays each month and even more frivolous things like rent for example. When I read this article and it said this was the second busiest time of year for retailers I believe it. After Christmas I start saving for back to school shopping. The rest of the school year has its own mishaps but damn do I hate Back to School Shopping.
Do you also hate this time of year? Am I overreacting to the supply lists? Does your local school system do the same? Also, someone make me a drink, it’s gonna be a long year…