My, oh my, how they have grown! Back in the day, my parents needed only supply my siblings and me with paper, one notebook with dividers, a pencil box, writing utensils, and an optional backpack. Nothing more was required or expected. Our schools provided glue, rulers, scissors (left- and right-handed), textbooks, and all the stickers a kid hoped to earn.
Fast-forward 30 years: my children’s school supply lists have sucked the excitement out the start of each school year. Back-to-school shopping had become an Olympic sport of sorts. Dash here for that supply! Fly to that planet for another! Outspend the previous year’s list, but try to find the best deals in town! It was exhausting and there were many rules. Only send specific brands of crayons, disinfectant wipes, and pencils. Only send certain requested folder colors (even if the demand was for six named colors, one of which no store seemed to carry). Don’t buy small boxes of facial tissues. Don’t label items. Do send everything on the first day or expect to get a note from the teacher.
One hectic summer’s end, a few days before school was due to start, I dumped the contents of all of my shopping bags onto the floor, gathered the supply lists for each of my four children, and started sorting my “scores’ into piles. Piles quickly became mountains and soon, I had to ask for help. I suddenly got a glimpse of what it must be like to work in a distribution center.
After an hour or more of sorting supplies with the assistance of my little helpers, inserting items into newly-labeled and overstuffed backpacks, and putting everything else that wouldn’t fit into plastic shopping bags, this huge task was completed. Mission accomplished! I deserved a pat on the back and an “A” for effort.
The elation was short-lived. The first week of the new school year, each of my four children came home with new supply lists from their “special” classes: art, foreign language, music, and physical education. Really?! More?! Back to the grind (a.k.a. school shopping) for me.
I soon learned that every item I’d doggedly tracked down, purchased, sorted, and labeled was tossed into a “community bin” for disbursement as teachers saw fit. With that knowledge, I decided that enough was enough. No more would I spend hundreds of dollars on school supplies. No more would I run to just about every store in town trying to find 2″ binders in our local school district’s colors, per demand. No more would I send a half-dozen rolls of paper towels on the first day of school. No more dozen red pens! No more dry erase markers! No more! Enough was enough! The next year, I sent what I wanted to send in the quantities that I decided and when I received notes from the school, I kindly explained that my children would receive their supplies per my distribution plan. Problem solved!
How does your school supply list compare. Check out these lists for the 2011 school year. Find out which one requests “one used clean sock”!
Happy New School Year!