the first day of school last year
This week I've done something thoroughly uncharacteristic. I've begun school-supply shopping.
I know. It's shocking.
As most of you know, I'm usually the mom who avoids all mention, thought, or even mere whisper of an idea of a mention or thought of back-to-school until nearly the last minute. This is because the end of summer/beginning of a new school year is so traumatic for me that my best coping mechanism is denial. Summer flies by so quickly; every year it feels like a cruel trick. I'm just not ready to think about the end of summer in July. When it's no longer optional to pretend summer vacation lasts forever, i.e. because school starts the following week, I then suck it up and try to find all the annoyingly specific requested items on the school-supply list in a fever of frustration, discovering as I do so that the limited stores in my small town are invariably out of stock of some of the necessary items (since everyone else started earlier than I did).
I can't explain why I've rejected my usual m.o. this year. Maybe I'm tired of missing out on the very best prices. Or maybe I'm sick to death of picking out the required spiral notebooks, getting to the bin on the store shelf where the purple spiral notebooks are supposed to be, and finding it empty, even though my list clearly states, "spiral notebooks: blue, red, yellow, green, purple." Or some such.
The truth is, I was inspired by my friend Kathy, who came to gymnastics class yesterday with her Walgreen's ad in hand, pointing out the low prices and stating her intention to head there after tumbling was done. To tell you the truth, the deal was sealed when Kathy texted me from Walgreen's a little later to tell me that they had PENCILS THAT ARE ALREADY SHARPENED. Seriously. That was it for me. I became intent on getting to Walgreen's before the pre-sharpened pencils were all sold out. Because, people, I will go anywhere for pre-sharpened pencils. Do you how rare the pre-sharpened pencil is? And do you know that the teachers all require the pencils to be already sharpened? Have you ever killed many a minute, the night before Back-to-School Open House, attempting to sharpen 60 brand-new pencils at home? Well, let me tell you, I have, as have most of my mom friends, and it is not pretty. It's possible that at one point or another I have pitched said pencils and/or crappy pencil sharpener across the room, muttering something about what the #$@! school can do with their #$@% request for already-sharpened pencils. I mean, don't they have pencil sharpeners AT SCHOOL? Hefty, industrial, effective pencil sharpeners?
Anyway, once I heard about the pre-sharpened pencils, I was sold on the idea of early school-supply shopping. I didn't have time after tumbling, so I ventured out after dinner, sans kiddos (also a change from earlier years, and wow does it make a difference), school list in hand, to begin the annual quest for glue sticks and highlighters and two-pocket folders.
Even though I was starting early, I braced myself for any possible challenges; remember The Unicorn of the School-Supply World, the Flair pen? And sure enough, once I got to to the school-supply aisle at Walgreen's, not everything was quite as it seemed in the enticing ad that came in the newspaper last weekend. I mean, naturally the folders that were 4/$1 did not include the 3rd-grade-required ORANGE. Red, blue, yellow, green--of course. But if you need orange? A different, more expensive folder. The multi-pack of cheap glue sticks? Not to be found. (I'm holding off on that one.) Highlighters? Can I get by with sending two of the 15-cent mini-highlighters with my child, in place of the requested "1 highlighter" (presumably regular-sized) that costs a whole lot more? What about the composition notebooks? They're 80 pages, but the school list asks for 100-page ones. Gah.
As for the pre-sharpened pencils? Came in packs of 10, not 12--even though one child needs two packs (24) and one needs three packs (36). I bought all five remaining packs of pre-sharpened pencils and still don't have the required number of pencils for each child. To which I say, ARGH! Close enough. They're SHARPENED, aren't they?
I'm not done with the school-supply shopping. I couldn't bring myself to buy the Crayola markers at Walgreen's when I know I can get cheaper markers at Target, even later on. And glue sticks are still on the to-buy list, as are the general items like Kleenex and Clorox Wipes (and a composition notebook that has 100 pages in it). Plus, there's still the issue of backpacks and lunch boxes to address. (Oh, Lord.)
image courtesy potterybarnkids.com
Now that I've ventured into school-supply shopping a full month ahead of schedule (and am almost done), I cannot believe I ever subjected myself to this experience, last year.
See? Even moms learn things as they grow up.