It’s that time of year again! The calendar has turned a page and we find ourselves looking at back-to-school month – August! Soon our little darlings will be heading off to start learning again.* Are you ready? If you look at the ads, it’s like Black Friday for School every day. Crayons, 99 cents! Paper, college-ruled or wide-ruled, 79 cents! Pencils, $1.19! With deals like this and everywhere selling school supplies, school shopping should be a synch!
But you know it’s not simply that easy. You need to get CRAYOLA crayons, in a 37-pack, not a 16, 24, 36 or 64-pack. Those don’t exist? Surely someone sells them. And you need to get five folders. But not just any five folders – you need to get violet, plum, orchid, lavender and fuchsia. They are all five shades of purple but yet so very different from each other. Now run out and find them! (Side note, my teenage boy did not know what fuchsia was. He thought it was…purple.) Target is out of plum? Try Walmart. No, not that Walmart, I heard it from someone that the elusive plum folder is at the Walmart on 8th Street. What do you mean it isn’t a PLASTIC plum folder? It’s just a heavy-duty paper one? That won’t do! The list says it must be specifically a plastic folder!**
When I first became a parent of a soon-to-be kindergartener (oh so many years ago) I dreaded the school shots. Why are there 47 shots for kindergarteners? (PLEASE NOTE: I LOVE VACCINES. THEY KEEP SOCIETY SAFE FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO TRULY CANNOT PROTECT THEMSELVES AGAINST CERTAIN VIRUSES. PLEASE VACCINATE. AND THIS BLOG IS NOT ABOUT VACCINATIONS SO WE’LL LEAVE IT THERE.) After the kindergarten shots, I took my newly minted five-year-old to buy school supplies as a reward. See, after you suffer through those shots, you will be rewarded by getting to go school shopping for the upcoming school year! Backpacks! Lunch bags! Pencil boxes! Do you know where this is headed? Naïve me had no idea I was venturing into one of the Seven Levels of Hell. Take one small area of Target, add 28 shopping carts, 36 frustrated parents (some smart ones stayed home and stuck their spouse with this task solo) and 900 kids all looking for the Dixon Ticonderoga pencils (did I mention you need to sharpen all two dozen of those pencils yourself?) This was not a reward – this was war! After searching for 15 minutes for a white, 1 inch, plastic binder, I found it 7 aisles down with the poster board. Oh Target, you mock me, toying with me and making me believe you’d put everything I need in the one place that has signs screaming SCHOOL SUPPLIES. Needless to say, I needed a nap and a bottle of wine when I was done. What the hell was that? Why does Parents magazine make this seem like a rite of passage? Oh, but because it is! It’s just that not all rites of passage are happy. How little did I know.
I quickly got smart and after that I started ordering the PTO School Supply box, that arrives in your child’s classroom at Open House, with all of the supplies, including Kleenex, except for the PE shoes and paint shirt. Does it cost more? Who the flip cares? How much is your soul worth? Mine is worth at least a $60 box of school supplies.
This got me thinking. Why isn’t there a School Supply list for Moms? We survived the summer and now will get to survive the upcoming school year. We will get to learn different teachers’ nuances – is this the year we have homework every day or never? Will there be a lot of parental engagement in the weekly special projects? Do we need to build a realistic looking dinosaur out of cereal boxes that still looks like our five-year-old made it? Do we bring snacks? Can they have peanuts in them? And do you have all the paperwork done? Did you sign the form for Tylenol, concussions in sports, vaccines, and permission for them to photograph your child? Don’t forget to bring it with you to the Open House! Oh there is so much to do. Look Moms, we need to get ready for this year too.
Here is my suggested School Supply List for Moms:
- Wine/Beer/Cocktail supplies – you either are celebrating the end of summer or celebrating the beginning of the school year
- A new “backpack” aka purse of your choosing
- New “PE” shoes
- Magazines for killing time: People, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue are all acceptable – you need to read something with very little substance after you spent the summer reading books, magazines and blogs full of ideas to keep your kids entertained and engaged
- A fancy new calendar so you can keep track of all of those new dates for sports, homework and field trips
- Highlighters and fancy pens for your new calendar - you can get stickers too if it brings you joy
- New podcasts for waiting for pick up/drop off/practice
- Frozen meals for those nights that dinner is after practice (Look, you can be super and make these yourself. You can also buy a box of frozen burritos at Costco. No one is judging.)
- A haircut for that new style you found on Pinterest
- It goes without saying…new school clothes
- Calming tea (You know there will be a pre-school-year assignment that you will receive at the school open house. It will involve a paper bag, scissors, crayons, 17 pictures of your family and thoughtful stories about your summer. This will be due in 36 hours. Cue Mission Impossible music.)
- A full tank of gas because the bus schedule never goes smoothly the first few days
- Kleenex because, sometimes this can be a little teary for someone (I’m talking to you Mom.)
I also suggest scheduling a playdate with one of your favorite mom friends to celebrate getting these little bundles of tan joy (you used sunscreen!) off to school with only minor glitches. You forgot the earbuds? Hey, last year I forgot poster board for my middle schooler for the whole year and guess what? He still moved up a grade. It will be okay. (But don’t forget that school paperwork – you won’t get further than a few days into the school year without them kicking you out with it. There is no coming back from forgetting the school paperwork.)
You made it! You pulled it off. You found the Crayola washable fat markers in a 12-count box at the last minute at Walgreens. You only forgot snack on the second day of school but you rallied after that. You are winning. Celebrate! Time to go to Coach for that “school bag” and then treat yourself to an adult juice box (yay for boxed wine!) Here’s to another year of school!
*Actually, if you are a good parent, they were learning all summer with your reading programs, math websites and fulfilling science excursions you took them on. If this is you, you are my hero. And if this isn’t you, you are my hero. So tired of summer guilt…that’s a whole other blog topic.
**To my teacher friends who make these lists…I love you. I know you have your reasons for this treasure hunt/wild goose chase we go on every year to find these school supplies. And I also know you are probably pulling out your hair to fill your own child’s school supply list. I see you. I hear you. Plastic folders ARE better than paper ones. Except that in 2015, an orange plastic folder Did. Not. Exist. I kid you not. I am still traumatized.