Fireworks 2: Back to School Edition

Take a deep breath, shoppers.  It’s school-supply-list season!

Each year, we lurch around Target, while I try to (a) read the lists with one hand and steer the cart with the other, (b) find the cheapest item that will fulfill the obligation, (c) stay out of the way of other irate supply-list shoppers, (d) keep my children in some kind of close proximity, (e) explain to Youngest that no, he can’t get anything off of THAT list because his grade uses THIS list, and (f) explain to Eldest that although he is indeed picking things out, he won’t be able to keep them because they are headed for the “community pile,” so we don’t really need to spend a half hour deciding between the green folder and the blue folder.

Here’s an idea: why doesn’t the school just order all of the supplies themselves?  We’re already paying fees for books and technology and field trips…how about just add another fee to that and keep us out of the equation?  Plus, if the school ordered supplies in bulk, they’d get a discount!  And everything would come out of the community pile (rather than going into it) so it would be like the school was giving the kids presents!! It’s a win-win!

I’d happily kick in a few extra bucks not to have to do this Odyssey of The Absurd every year–especially since the list goes far beyond your basic items.  Folders and notepaper?  Absolutely.  Garbage bags and reams of paper?  Not so much.

Husband’s response to the news that we had to provide EIGHT large glue sticks: “Well, then I better see something glued come home Every. Single. Day.”


14 thoughts on “Fireworks 2: Back to School Edition”

  1. I can see both sides of this. I know it is annoying and I know that most lists are now (at our school anyway) including an asterisked and blooded subheading to remind parents NOT to put their child’s name on the supplies they just purchased. However, as a teacher I also know that some students…even some that you will never ever know about…are incapable of actually purchasing their supplies. At the beginning of the school year there are several churches and community programs that will provide anything from glue sticks to new clothes, they sometimes even provide food and rides. However, the supplies are only there for a limited amount of time and it can really harm a child’s ability to focus and learn when their disadvantages are so glaringly obvious in class. This also applies to charging extra fees for district purchased supplies…schools are often underfunded and many families would be incapable of paying the extra. Most teachers end up spending a lot of money out of their own pockets to supplement their classroom supplies throughout the year.


  2. I laughed heartily at this, mostly because I totally understand! Our daughter is in private school, and I’m grateful because our supply list is short (and no community pile). However, there are teachers in the family, and they often lament these lists, too. They’d much rather order like they used to, before budgets were slashed. It really would solve a lot of issues, including helping the kids who can’t purchase supplies. Friends show me their kids’ lists and they’re insane–one was SIX TYPED PAGES. I don’t remember having these lists as a kid–it was “pencils, notebook, folders.” Any pencil I wanted, any notebook I wanted. Easy, peasy!


  3. Last year, my daughter need some absurd number of folders – 12 or so, I think. Both kids moved to new schools this year, so I don’t have the supply lists yet. I don’t think my girl will get hers until the first day of school (high school) – unless I get it at orientation tonight. Except for having to purchase a lock, a planner, and a $150 graphing calculator (fortunately, I have a friend who has one and no longer uses it, so I get to save that cash). I hope my body’s new school mails the lists, but I also have friends who might be able to share with me.

    The item that always got me was Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, paper towels and tissues. I nearly went ballistic on my CCD kids last year who hit up that hand sanitizer fifteen times in an hour. “Excuse me, I had to BUY that for this classroom – bring your own or be prepared to bring in a bottle to leave behind!”

    I can usually send each kid for his/her item while I stay in place, but then I get the “No, we are not buying folders at two dollars each. Put them back.”

    Yeah, school supply shopping – not my fave.


  4. Uh, that would be “my boy’s” – need moar caffeine!

    Pam, we’re at private school too. And yes, I distinctly remember my lists being a lot shorter back in the day.


  5. I don’t have children, so naturally I associate more with the child in this blog than the parents! So I’m curious. Is this a fun shopping trip for your kids? Having developed a love of school and office supplies somewhere in life, I think it would be heaven.

    P.S. Staples has spiral bound notebooks on sale for 17 cents. (That somehow seems relevant)


  6. This is funny, especially the glue stick comment. We are all strapped and a list can get ridiculous. As a professor, I’m resisting being overtly political, so I will content myself with saying some organizations get way more money than others are, which reflects poorly on our values as a society. ‘nuf said.


  7. Thanks, all. I just needed to vent.

    Pamela, I so miss the days of choosing any folder/pencil etc. that we wanted!

    Mary, 12 folders is over the top! And yes, the cleaning supplies…gah! So glad you scored that calculator, though. Wow.

    Diane, I wish! Would love happy-memory-making time for the kiddos but instead it’s all I KNOW YOU LOVE THAT PENCIL HOLDER BOX THAT YOU JUST PICKED OUT IN YOUR FAVORITE COLOR BUT YOU CANNOT KEEP IT AND I AM SORRY BUT PLEASE STOP ASKING ME ABOUT IT BECAUSE I CANNOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT SINCE THOSE ARE THE RULES AND I DO NOT MAKE THE RULES. So that’s no fun for anyone. (Thanks for the heads-up on the sale!)


  8. Wow. School supply shopping used to be a fun activity, but it sounds like serious business now. I hope the children can start a new year with anticipation rather than fireworks!


  9. Lacking children of my own, I can only think school supplies YEAH. I loved shopping for school supplies when I was a kid and my favorite season now is school supply season – yes, I buy some, I’m a sucker for colored pens and markers. That all said, I had no idea about lists, etc.I understand how that can be hard, especially in multi-child families. But I hope the kids have fun anyway – love of the smell of a newly sharpened pencil helps grow writers.


  10. Diane, my two would rather go to the dentist than school supply shopping. Now, we don’t have a “community pile,” so they get to keep what we buy, but the drudgery if picking and choosing and comparing – blah. “You have to get this many of that, blue pens not black pens, no I am not buying pens that are $7 for two” and on, and on.

    Here’s one – book covers. When did book covers become a “school supply”? I distinctly remember my books being covered in brown paper and we were all just fine with it. I got such horrified looks the year I said, “Let’s save some cash and do paper book covers.” They were sure they’d be the laughingstocks of the school.

    I just found The Boy’s back to school list on the new school’s web site. It is so much shorter and more manageable than the old school’s list. Wow.


  11. Our parent-teacher association actually will do this for parents — you pay and they pick up everything. I’ve never done it, though. Because of my frugal nature, I’m convinced I can find everything for less than the cost the association charges. I’m probably wrong. And definitely stubborn. Oh well! Create my own misery, I guess. Lol.


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