The anxiety level in our household is beginning to mount after last week’s visit to Staples for back-to-school shopping. They, the kids, are all still smarting from the fact that only then did they realize how imminent back-to-school really was, alongside the fact that they are returning to school a week earlier than normal (the week before Labour Day). Nevertheless, just a few more school supplies to check off the list.
This year’s school supply shopping was not as unpleasant as in previous years. No list whatsoever from the boys’ teachers (evidently they’re supposed to know by now what they need and what they should shop for) and my daughter’s list was considerably less militant than in previous years where only certain brands of dictionaries, certain styles of Ziplocs, certain colour of erasers were permissible. I found myself thinking, as I do each summer’s end, what back-to-school shopping was I subjected to as a youngster? Possibly, I became the recipient of a new pair of shoes. Certainly my mom furiously sewed new clothes for us or re-hemmed hand-me-downs. A trip to the store might have resulted in a cherished new pencil case. No way were parents called upon for combat duty at WalMart, Staples or Grand&Toy. I’ve become a twenty-first century back-to-school gladiator: last one standing gets the purple duo-tang. I am still recovering from the irritation of last year’s mandatory list:
- 10-12 HB#2 pencils plus 1 soft leaded one for art work
- 1 package on non-toxic colour markers
- 1 package of colouring pencils
- 1 box of non-toxic crayons
- 1 scrapbook or art book
- 7 duo tangs (specific colours only, purple being the ever-elusive snag)
- 2 pocket folders
- 4 white erasers,
- 1 pair of scissors
- 1 self-contained pencil sharpener
- 1 ruler (centimetres, please)
- 6 glue sticks
- 1 package of photocopy paper
- 1 package of 3-hole lined loose-leaf paper
- 2 ringed notebooks – 1 with lined paper and 1 with graph paper
- very specific brand of French-English dictionary and verb-conjugation textbook
- a deck of cards and package of playdough (for indoor recesses)
- a calculator
- a box of tissues
- a bottle of hand sanitizer
- certain size pencil box, and, naturally…
- a pair of indoor-use only shoes with non-marking soles.
Multiply this by 3 and you can imagine that it is not the most wonderful time of the year for me.
Am I the only one who remembers when markers were toxic and therefore used minimally? Didn’t we have a set of colouring pencils for the whole class that we shared?? My daughter singed my ego once again by explaining to me that non-toxic washable colour markers were not invented when I was in grade school and, of course, she’s right. Who remembers Elmer’s rubber glue, the one with the slanted rubber tip with a slit? I tried to explain this one to my kids too and the eldest replied, “Didn’t kids start to get addicted to it?” (Ah, the good ol’ days – I should possibly concede this one). What possible unforgivable outcome could result from using a pink eraser instead of a white one? Whatever happened to getting up off your butt and walking to the front of the class to – yes, possibly wait in line – to sharpen your pencil? With markers, colour pencils, crayons and even drafting supplies, how much colouring is going on in the 4th Grade?? Naturally, the teacher would like all their supplies on the first day of school, generating a couple of sick days with intense physiotherapy for the kids whose school supplies weigh more than they do.
This year, I must say, the shopping was a little easier and less costly, and I did a much better job of recycling school supplies from last year. Isn’t it funny that many of the ringed notebooks I bought my middle school-aged children returned unused (or perhaps that is a hint of a much larger, more deeply concealed issue) and the unused supplies from my daughter’s list, never made it home (no doubt they became part of another more subversive socialistic plot). Or perhaps the school board found its own purveyor of purple duo tangs. Whatever the reason, it’s back-to-school next week for my brood of three – and they’re not happy about it either.