U: The Unknown
The premature start of school for my 7 and 9 year-olds jolted me out of a rather enjoyable summer daze. It was August 22. That night we diligently went to our school’s open house to meet their teachers. The weekend prior to the visit, I located my daughter Ava’s school supply sheet that was sent home with her at the end of third grade. They must have sent it home early because collecting all of the specific stuff on it can be a summer-long task. I couldn’t find my son, Calvin’s list.
The school asks that we drop off the supplies the Wednesday before school starts – at the open house. I argued my point, we don’t have Calvin’s list so it doesn’t make sense to shop in advance. They didn’t like going into their new classrooms empty-handed. Again I reasoned, maybe they don’t actually need all of the stuff on the list or they need different stuff. Plus, what were the four tennis balls on Ava’s list needed for? Later I would find out that they cut an incision in them and they cover the chair legs to cut back on all of the noise as kids fidget and slide around in their chairs.
We meet Calvin’s co-teachers first. The two teachers are on two days a week and rotate Fridays. That should keep them enthusiastic, fresh and ready for their 26 first-graders. My daughter’s fourth grade teacher is on her own with, to my shock, 34 students. We confirm pick up and drop off schedules, carefully handwrite our emails about seven times and check out the class roster.
Armed with Calvin’s list now, we do not pass go and head immediately to Target. Having lists isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does take most of the fun out of shopping for supplies. There are list sub-divisions: child’s own stuff, community stuff, nice to have stuff (needed throughout the year); brand name requests (no Rose Art, Triconderoga No. 2 pencils) and notebook specifics – 100 page, purple cover, 1 subject and wide-ruled. Some supplies overlap between lists. There is little room for individuality (save for the pencil box) and depending on when and where you shop, little chance you’ll find everything in one quick trip.
We didn’t go to our usual home-base Target and it threw me off a bit. I KNOW there is a school supply section in the back of the store – it’s been there since June. My overly eager kids comb the supply aisles near the check out for quite some time until the lightbulb comes on. We head back to the designated area. It’s a bit picked over and we spend way too much time contemplating matching notebooks and folders and what stuff goes to which kid’s classroom. To add to the challenge, the list items are not sequestered to the supply area. We actually find stuff in every area of the store from band aids to tennis balls. Ninety minutes and $90 later, we head home.
We don’t actually have everything yet. I’m ready to give it a rest. When my Mom arrives on Saturday I enlist her for moral support. This trip we are without Calvin and we vote to head to Office Max in uptown because of its close proximity to the day’s earlier outing. I don’t have the highest of hopes. I’m pleasantly surprised that they have the 3mm erasable ink pens in the specific brand required. My daughter tracks down a salesperson who helps us unload nearly an entire bin of notebooks to get to the last of 10 notebooks required – one with a yellow cover. I would call it a 45 minute, $60 trip.
At home on Sunday, the supplies that took us 2 hours and 15 minutes to find and $150 to buy, are divided as needed and set in stacks by classroom. We are ready for the first day, Monday, August 27, in plenty of time. We arrive with all the stuff at 7:15a.m. Monday and I bid them good first day.
Now I realize we haven’t done one bit of school clothes/shoes shopping yet. Intentional on my part – that’s in the budget for late September. Besides they wear shorts and flip flops August through mid-September anyway and there are better deals on clothing in retail stores. At least we can take some liberties with that and choose their new clothes just in time for September 17 school pictures. I tell myself I’m very savvy… but it’s probably just procrastination. Speaking of which, it’s time to call it a blog post – there’s homework to do.