Thursday, August 23, 2007

Where School Supplies Go To Die

Fall is my very favorite season. I love the leaves. I love the coolness in the air, and I definitely, definitely have always loved school supply shopping. There's such promise in a newly sharpened pencil, isn't there? And surely nothing but "A" papers could be written in a cute spiral notebook with a spunky stripe pattern on the front.
I love school supplies. And have you seen the new twist up colored pencils? Truly, people, my toes get a little tingly at the sight.

... as is customary in our schools, a week before school started this year, we were given The School Supply Lists. Now, for many years past, as soon as I have received The Lists, I would immediately buckle everyone into their little carseats, and head straight for the nearest school supply nirvana.
We would spend hours searching the aisles and a boatload of cash (or credit card debt) to make sure we had everything on The List. Everything. In the exact right size, and the right color, on the right day.
It would always take several trips, and always several different stores - but I didn't mind at all, because it's school supply shopping (which I love), and it's promising me that fall is around the corner (which I also love).
And we have been determined. No stone has gone unturned. I mean, if that list said 4 inch 3-ring binder, I once went to every office supply chain in the Denver metro area. We actually SPECIAL ORDERED that 4 inch 3-ring binder, so that we would have it on the first day, as required by The List.

For a full week every summer, The List has run our lives.

And? On the first day of school? Did I get a special little note sent home, that said something like, "Congratulations! Your child has the perfect supplies at the perfect time. Thank-you for being a responsible parent."
No, I did not.

What I did get, was that SAME book-bag that went to school full, coming home full, and my students coming home full of helpful information like this:
  • Yeah, that pack of 3X5 cards The List said every foreign language student needed? That was just something the advanced Cantonese teacher threw on there. We don't need it for Spanish.
  • The composition book? My English teacher says actually a small spiral would be better. I need it by Friday.
  • The 4inch 3-ring binder? The one we special ordered? The Science teacher is sorry that she didn't know those aren't normally carried in stores. She says now we need 4 one -inch binders instead.
  • Highlighters? My teacher says any color but yellow. That part got left off The List.
And on, and on.....

And so the first day or two of the school year have always been ruled by The Modified List. Pretty much doing the whole thing over again.

Now, I DO love school supply shopping. But I do NOT like wasting my money. Well, at least if I'm wasting it, I want to do it right and buy the extra cute flowery thumbtacks for my bulletin board. And the matching whiteboard markers with the flower caps, and did I mention those twist up colored pencils? You know - stuff we could all enjoy.

NOT on a bunch of "extra" school supplies that end up in our giant supply box in the basement. I'm pretty sure you could call it Supply Hell down there - there are so many things in that box not fulfilling the measure if their potential. Right now down there are at least 12 yellow highlighters, 8 spiral notebooks, 3 packs of notebook paper in the unacceptable Wide Rule, approximately 43 report covers (some with pockets, some without), and a whole mess of other things.

And SO, my friends, THIS year I refused. I took each kid the day before school started to buy the spiral notebook of their dreams, and bargained that we would go immediately after school on the very first day and buy anything else their teacher's little hearts desired.

That was yesterday.

I made the pick-up from school, went for the celebratory ice-cream cone (first day tradition) and then headed for the office supply store.

Where are we going? Mimi asks.
Supply shopping - I reply,
Ummm. I don't need any supplies.
What? No supplies? You had a 2 page list yesterday.
Well, I need a couple of pocket folders, but I'm pretty sure there are some in the supply box in the basement.

Yeah, like about 43. In assorted colors.

Maybe this would be a good time to say to all my teacher friends - I heart you , and I feel your pain. I know they make you turn in your supply list in the spring, and then they just compile those things and throw everything on there. It's not your fault.

The one thing that has NEVER been returned to my house is that box of Kleenex. I don't know if it's the same where you live, but here, every child is required to bring a box of Kleenex to be shared with the class, replacing, as needed, the box that sits on the teacher's desk.

Can anybody really imagine that the 6th grade class is actually going to go through 30 boxes of Kleenex in the next year? Hey! Maybe we could cut down on the next tax increase by actually emptying that Kleenex vault that must be somewhere under the school, and renting it out as storage space.


Morning Glory said...

I love your sense of humor here.

Heather said...

You have a way of finessing everything- even school supply shopping.

I could use some of those binders kicking around your basement...

East of Eden said...

As a teacher, I was never asked to submit a list of supplies...I guess that's what happens when you work at Satan's High School. My only no-no as a teacher was spiral paper--hated it! And I always required blue or black ink pens only....everything else I supplied.

But I do get it about shopping for school/office supplies. I like little cute knick-knacky things too!

Earl said...

As a kindergarten teacher, THIS is my list:
1 box of (gallon-sized) ziplock bags
1 or 2 boxes of tissue (Kleenex, Puffs, etc.)
1 container of hand sanitizer

And the kleenex, I can't speak for 6th grade, but you should SEE kindergarten. One kid coughs, 30 kids cough. One kid gets up and gets a kleenex, if I didn't LOSE it and scream, 30 kids get up and get a kleenex. I go through a LOT of kleenex. And I DON'T get it, it's not like they pay attention to basic hygeine or anything. Kindergarten kids are germ magnets.

Baby J said...

haha oh my goodness. That made my day. It's funny because it's true. My AP US History teacher continues to do that to me even now that the year has officially begun.

kristen said...

Cute post.

We don't do those lists here. I never received them in California either (thankgoodness).

And I can vouch for the kleenex. Not only is it a chain reaction with kids (read: one kid gets one, then follows three others), but they don't grab just one.....more like 3 or 4 tissues.

Jen23456 said...

This is just too true to be funny!!! Ahhh new school supplies, I love them too!