The other day, girls in tow, I ventured into the eighth circle of hell, otherwise known as school supply shopping. Because we also did (some) shoes and (a few) clothes, it took us literally HOURS. You may not think that spending hours shopping for school gear is all that unreasonable, or any big deal. But moms of small kids know that dragging (bored) very young children around any store for hours is painful for all involved, and worthy of some sort of medal for Mothering Stamina -- let alone hours in the school section, debating the merits of Prang vs. Crayola watercolors and the pink vs. the purple backpack.
Some school districts I know have parents write out a check at the beginning of the year; then the teacher goes and buys what he or she needs for the classroom. But in my district, we get one of those Lists. Oh, the List. The long, long, long, expensive, horribly specific List. Why do you taunt me so, strangely specific List, with your promise of school supplies that seem to not actually exist? The eight-pack of (only) black dry-erase markers, regular point? The blue (has to be blue!) two-pocket folder that is sold out because I wasn't doing this shopping in July? The pencil box "large enough to hold all crayons, markers, pencils, and erasers," which happens to be not the standard pencil box size? THE FLAIR PENS.
By the end of the afternoon I was randomly tossing anything that even remotely resembled the requested school supply into my cart: the Crayola watercolor set instead of the mythical Prangs, multi-colored dry erase markers instead of the elusive all-blacks.
And then I handed over my debit card and visibly winced when the cashier rang up my shockingly high total. (And that was without the Flair pens.)