We went back to school shopping today, and honestly, I can think of fewer things I dislike more.
It’s not the shopping—I can absolutely get on board with that. I love me an excuse to buy clothes I don’t need—in fact, I revel in the idea that we’ve been conditioned to buy new clothes for an event that in no way requires them. The first day of school is this milestone—who did you become over the summer? Who ARE you now? And how does this new t-shirt and shorts reflect that change?
Unfortunately, the kids weren’t as psyched about the clothing. In fact, the only thing they got revved up for were the school supplies.
“I NEED more pencils!” Dominic insisted once he got through the front doors at Target.
“We definitely do NOT need more pencils,” I said. “You don’t have ANY pencils?”
“I do, but not ones I can use.”
“I need more information,” I said.
“The only pencils I have are part of my pencil collection, so I can’t use them,” he said.
“You have a fucking PENCIL collection?”
Don’t get me wrong, I also love me some stationary, a passion I inherited from my father, who’s got more varieties of notecards and sticky notes than a goddamn Office Max. I, too, have several hundred dollars worth of blank notebooks filling my shelves, many of which I’ll never crack the cellophane on.
The thing about school supply shopping that bugs me is that for some reason, I’m expected to buy shit I already have.
“More crayons?” I complained as Josephine put a 24 pack of Crayolas in the cart. “We have a coffin-sized bin of crayons in the basement. What’s wrong with those?”
She shrugged. “They’re all old and broken.”
“What do you think is going to happen to this set after it rolls around in the bottom of your backpack unused for nine months?” I said.
Honestly, I blame the schools. Every year, they send out this long list of unnecessary shit. Like, does my kid really need a set of crayons AND colored pencils? Show me the lesson plan that requires both.
I think those lists are just a mindfuck, a test for teachers to see which parents are going to be problems. Know how I know this? Both of my kids had PROTRACTORS on their supply lists. “What?” Dominic said when I glared at him. “I’m taking geometry. I need it!”
I taught long enough to know that your goddamn geometry teacher has a bucket full of those things. Know where he got them? Dumbass parents like me who thought you needed a $5 protractor and wouldn’t leave it under your desk like a candy wrapper.
Of course the stores aren’t complaining. The energy in Target this morning was akin to the week before Christmas, parents and their kids tearing around the supply aisles like life as we know it would end if they didn’t get the right notebook.
THIS IS COLLEGE RULED! I NEED WIDE RULED!
I wish I could be more optimistic about this fool’s errand, but I know how the movie ends. The $120 of shit I bought today is going to end either lost or at the bottom of the craft bin, never to be looked upon again.
And on and on.