I think we all know by now my opinion on back-to-school clothing. Namely, that the only thing missing from most back-to-school fashion collections for even the youngest children is a dimly lit stage and a pole.
Obviously, the nation’s fashion mavens and marketer’s don’t give a fig what I – a thirtysomething crone – thinks of their fashion sense (or lack thereof). As a result, I will be moving on to our next lesson: supplies.
Supplied. It is imperative we address the issue of school supply shopping and the parents who loathe it. This is a mission, people. We aren’t in this for fun and Hello Kitty notebooks, we are in this for pencils, crayons, and some semblance of sanity.
Therefore, it’s important that, like any successful mission, you have a plan. I suggest you get in, you get out, and you get the job done. If your feet and shopping cart stop at any point in the cramped school supply shopping aisle, you are what we call a speed bump.
Late June and early July were the days for spending long hours happily perusing the notebook and file folder displays. This is crunch time.
This, my fellow parent, is war. Thus, if something in your psyche requires you to study a box of crayons like you might be quizzed on every facet of the product in a pop quiz, then we beg of you, please park your cart outside of the designated school supply shopping area.
Then people are not required to navigate around your body, your cart, and your startling lack of having something, anything, better to do with your time than memorize the ASTM data off the back of a glue stick.
Relax. Finally, to the cranky shoppers ready to strike out in fear that the very last of the “best school supplies” will be picked over before you can plunge into the fray and secure them, relax.
You don’t need to throw an elbow. You will not be required to wrestle anyone to the ground. Take comfort in the fact that there are plenty of No. 2 pencils in the world.
Your child will not have to settle for the barely visible scratchings of the No. 1 pencil that you were forced to use as a child. The No. 2 pencil shortage that apparently occurred during your childhood and has scarred you for life has blessedly ended.
Please pick up your No. 2 pencils that are, not coincidentally, unlike virtually every other pack of No. 2 pencils anywhere on the planet, and move your body and shopping cart on to the paste section quickly and peacefully. I hear they’ve done amazing things with paste these days. Color. Glitter. Scent even. You could probably spend days over there.
Finally, we will address the educational system. Let’s keep the supply lists short and, most importantly, economical, can we?
The general population of parents is currently paying something like $3 gallon for gasoline and, say, $1,700 a month for cellular phones and cable television and thus can barely afford the long list of supplies it apparently takes to keep a kindergartner on the fast track to Harvard.
We are also growing increasingly suspicious as the supply list grows from the obvious (pencil, eraser, paper and crayons), to the suspicious: erasable markers, hi-liters (for all those second grade term papers naturally) and brown bags; to the downright suspect: hand sanitizer, tissues, mop and dustpan (for cleaning up the cafeteria?)
I expect to be asked to provide my own cook for school lunches and paper for the fax any day now.
Look, we know there’s a budget crunch, but when the elementary school supply list includes 40 gallons of diesel fuel per student, which I’m sure is just around the corner, we may have to draw the line.
We’ll draw it with a No. 2 pencil.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is holding out for a No. 3 pencil. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt.)
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