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School Daze


Last summer, after many a sleepless night had left me more brain dead than I’d been before (presumably perhaps), it came to my attention that my eldest son would be entering into first grade. After my initial reaction of “Holy SHIT I’m OLD,” I was thrilled to remember that actual number grades = actual school supplies and rightness was once again restored to my galaxy.

There’s something in me, my inner nerd perhaps, that adores that feeling in the fall, the feeling of Starting Over again in school. A whole new year of teachers, mischief, and brand new pens to look forward to. Yes, I did, in fact earn my title of Super Becky Overachiever, thank you for asking.

Armed with a crabby screaming baby and a school supply list, I first hit up Mecca (read: Target). And it was only there, in the fluorescently lit aisles, that I began to actually read what was on The List.

The words read properly, but the combinations didn’t make sense to me. And upon scouring the notebooks for “Plastic covered, yellow, three subject, wide ruled, without perforations, that ALSO makes coffee for poor, poor teacher” I was befuddled.

I could get MOST of the combination, but not all.

The erasers, Pink Pearl, no less, I found immediately, but the oil pastels? I had no idea what oil pastels even were. Pencils I found, art smock I did not.

After assuming I’d try one of the bigger office supply stores, I paid for about a quarter of the needed supplies and shuffled off to Office Depot. Up and down those aisles, I paced frantically, the baby nursing awkwardly as I searched in vain for “plastic colored folder, red, yellow and blue, no three punch holes, three pockets inside.”

The words, they made sense, but the combination was all shades of wrong. Kind of like trying to read A Clockwork Orange.

I was able to procure another portion of The List before I had to make my exit and hit up yet another store.

In the end, I searched The Internet, another Target store, The Rolls Royce of Office Supply Stores, and sent both The Daver and my mother to see if I had missed something. I hadn’t. I even asked my mother-in-law who is ALSO a first grade teacher, and she was at a loss.

I was able to get most of The List in about a month’s time, but an interesting shift occurred: no longer was I enchanted by the stacks of blank notebooks and packs of pens lined up perfectly in a row like sardines. Mention “School Supplies” and I’d become irate and angry, convinced I’d failed at my first task at parenting a school aged child.

Last week sometime, I got in the mail the very same list of school supplies, and this time I just laughed. Then I promptly lost it.

Thanks to a semi-photographic memory and the fact that Ben was able to recall what he’d used and needed last year, we shabbily reconstructed The List. I’m sure it’s only half right and you know what? That’s half more right than I was planning to send.

I was planning to send a package of dry soba noodles and a box of Hello Kitty flan.

posted under The Sausage Factory
42 Comments to

“School Daze”

  1. On August 15th, 2008 at 10:42 am WD Says:

    Check to see if your son’s school participates in the School-Pak program. It’s a life saver.

  2. On August 15th, 2008 at 10:43 am Writer Dad Says:

    I’ve always loved September and the start of a new school year. Last year (my daughter going to Kindergarten) was the first time it was ever melancholy. I think it’ll be the same this year.

  3. On August 15th, 2008 at 10:44 am kbreints Says:

    I too am a total nerd when it comes to school supplies– I even bought some, just to have… my children are a few years from ever needing them. Oh I wish that I had a back pack to put them in!

  4. On August 15th, 2008 at 10:55 am SciFi Dad Says:

    mmm… flan…

    But seriously, what the hell kind of list is that? Is he in school or the military?

  5. On August 15th, 2008 at 11:01 am Lola Says:

    My post today was going to be about The List that arrived yesterday from my son’s second grade teacher. Let’s just say that it is long, very specific and way more of a project than I’m up for this week. I’m going to have to drop some serious change on that list. It would have been nice if she got the giant list out weeks ago, like all of the other teachers did, so I could have picked away at it.

    Then she wants him to bring his favorite book to school the first day so that he can stand up in front of his new classmates, some of which he knows, and a brand new teacher and tell them all about his favorite book. Yeah, I hate this bitch already, and my incredibly shy son is going to hate her, too, on the first day when she makes him stand up in front of everyone and give a book report. Kill me now!!

    (I think I’ll just copy and paste this comment, give it a catchy post title and call it a day.)

  6. On August 15th, 2008 at 11:34 am Anjali Says:

    Thankfully, we have an option here to avoid “List Nightmares.” Our school sells discounted, prepackaged boxes of all the school supplies your kid needs at the end of the previous school year.

    I, too, love supplies, but damn, it’s a nice fringe benefit.

  7. On August 15th, 2008 at 11:45 am Gail Says:

    Gabriel is starting an “official” preschool in 2 weeks, one that comes with a list of required supplies (some of which are galactically stupid, like “5 rolls of paper towels”).

    However, the one and only thing I could not find between Office Depot and Target was the box of multicultual crayons. I have to drag my ass to Bright Ideas to get them, or order them online from Office Depot – at a cost of $.99, the shipping would probably be three times the cost of the item!

    And our new school also sells the prepackaged bucket o’ school supplies by class. However, it is handled by the Cub Scouts as a fundraiser. Hell if I’m giving those homophobes a single penny of my money. So that approach is out…

    Ah, I love the smell of school supplies in August!

  8. On August 15th, 2008 at 11:47 am Badass Geek Says:

    I loved shopping for school supplies, too. Except I’d lose most of it on the first or second day of classes.

  9. On August 15th, 2008 at 11:48 am CLC Says:

    I must be a nerd too because I always get excited for September and the “new year”.

    Who needs oil pastels in 1st grade? Sounds like a fancy school!

  10. On August 15th, 2008 at 11:53 am Madame Yu See Says:

    It’s ridiculous that teacher’s have the gall to be so anal about school supplies. Get him 2 black marble composition books and a few pencils and call it a day. But, be sure that the erasers on the pencils actually erase pencil! (At work, the pencils have INK erasers on them!!!) Pink = pencil (generally), white = ink. Shopping for school supplies used to be fun. Now it sounds like a scavenger hunt for ADHD people on meth!

  11. On August 15th, 2008 at 11:57 am Rachel Says:

    Ah, yes, the infamous list. My daughter is going into 5th grade this fall, and I can tell you the list only gets worse. They’ve managed to suck all the fun out of the school shopping experience. No creativity for these kids…solid color notebooks with MATCHING FOLDERS??? What kind of crap is this?
    Also, I take offense to having to supply the school with dry erase markers and kleenes. Isn’t this why I pay so damn much money in property taxes?

  12. On August 15th, 2008 at 12:34 pm Susan Says:

    I was never a geek for school supplies, (though I love the smell of a new book and those purple mimeographed sheets – never mind, you’re too young). I was especially geeky when it came to fall fashion. My mom always bought me the coolest fall clothes and that is still my weakness though I now buy my fashions from Omar the Tentmaker. I was the sweaty geek with the plaid wool skirt, leggings and awesome vneck over the new blouse in Arkansas in August. What a dumbass. A hot dumbass.

  13. On August 15th, 2008 at 12:52 pm Vered Says:

    “I’m sure it’s only half right and you know what? That’s half more right than I was planning to send.”

    Smart woman.

  14. On August 15th, 2008 at 12:57 pm Tracy Says:

    I’m thinking maybe that when my son starts school, I’ll just send him in a beret, after teaching him a lot of dramatic hard gestures that can be easily interpreted as “I don’t know.”

  15. On August 15th, 2008 at 1:32 pm Maria Says:

    Can you send me some Hello Kitty flan?

    I’m already scared of S’s small list which includes Tissues. Which is just weird, but I guess also sanitary.

    I liked school shopping when I was in school. Hugely. Then I didn’t use anything I bought unless it contributed to helping me achieve the best possible grades with the lowest possible effort.

  16. On August 15th, 2008 at 2:23 pm heather Says:

    I’ve decided that my kid is going to be the one that goes in unprepared and has to rely (mooch, whatever) on the kindness of other kids. It’s way easier.

  17. On August 15th, 2008 at 3:23 pm honeywine Says:

    Those lists are freakin’ out of control. I remember when you were the shizzle if you got the 64 count Crayolas. There’s no way they can use half the crap the teachers insist upon. I think the teachers should be forced to shop for that crap, and then ya’ll could just pay a flat fee.

    And what are they thinking with OIL pastels? Oil doesn’t come out too easily. I warn you now.

  18. On August 15th, 2008 at 3:30 pm stacey k Says:

    I thank GOD…i don’t have to do this for the year…
    the oldest graduated HS and the youngest decided there were greener pastures over at his dad’s (he’s already begging to come home after 2 weeks)…..i don’t miss it one bit

  19. On August 15th, 2008 at 3:32 pm gingermagnolia Says:

    You feel old? Wait till he’s in third grade…or better yet, seventh! I think I made 4 or 5 trips to get all of the school supplies for my boys, and spent well over $150. It’s flippin’ redonkulous. The 7th grader’s list included a separate list for each of the 9 classes he is taking, as well as a general list. GRRRR!

  20. On August 15th, 2008 at 3:42 pm Stacey Says:

    Last week my sons’ school mailed us a list of supplies. I found all of them except the vaguely defined ‘yellow & blue plastic pocket folders” I found no less than 8 different items that might be what they are describing but am too cheap to buy any of them until I know for sure.
    Today I get another letter from the school saying I can buy all the supplied in a pre-packaged set at Open House. Why not tell me that when you send me the list in the first place. I wonder if they will let me buy just the yellow & blue plastic pocket folders?

  21. On August 15th, 2008 at 4:34 pm Michelle Says:

    My son is also required to have oil pastels for KINDERGARTEN! We found them at Michaels and they also have them at Hobby Lobby. I got most of my list at Michaels, but could not find 12 count crayons. They had everything but. Then I had to go to Target, and ended up spending more money, because that is what Target does to me. Plus we need to label EVERY crayon and marker with our kids names. Fun Fun Fun!
    Hint-if you can’t find it in the back to school aisle, look in the regular school/office/crayon aisle.

  22. On August 15th, 2008 at 6:46 pm Jenn Says:

    I love school supplies too. I always buy a bunch every year when they are on sale… just because. I have so many notebooks and 3-ring binders and pens (and even a few protractors and compasses, haha) that I can’t imagine ever HAVING to go shopping for supplies. Kent won’t even let me go into a store like Staples on my own. ;o

    I think it’s ridiculous the lists that some schools send out though. I mean, HELLO, our kids are in public school for a reason, haha. And, in my experience, half the shit parents buy doesn’t even get used.

  23. On August 15th, 2008 at 7:05 pm baseballmom Says:

    Dude, I just love office supplies, period. Whether they’re for school or not! Some little girl was on the news the other day, talking about how she’ s thinking it would be better to recycle last year’s school supplies and use them again this year, which I guess is noble of her, but I couldn’t help thinking, “What’s the fun in THAT?!!!” I couldn’t find a 3″ zippered binder last year, and had to buy the 2-incher, but hey…if they’re going around measuring my kid’s binder, they have too much time on their hands. I did sorta feel like I failed, though.

  24. On August 15th, 2008 at 9:09 pm mandy Says:

    That’s funny, I thought target was supposed to have it all. Next time, call the teacher. At home. On Saturday. Evening. And then, maybe she’ll think twice about those lists that don’t include WHERE she expects you to find that stuff. Flan would be good.

  25. On August 15th, 2008 at 9:11 pm Ms. Moon Says:

    Yes. You surely can imagine the glee I feel when I pass all those back-to-school displays in the stores and all those bins of pens/pencils/notebooks/granolabars/lunchboxes and know that I have NO REASON WHATSOEVER TO BUY ANY OF THEM because none of my children are starting back to school except the college girl who will buy all her own stuff!
    Ah. It’s sort of like dying and going to heaven. Without having to die.

  26. On August 15th, 2008 at 9:18 pm tash Says:

    Ok, only preschool here, so the list I lost is the list of kids in her class next year. The one with her teachers’ names on it. D’oh. I have no clue, and no clue where that paper is. I’m also a bit embarrassed to call and admit I lost it, but more mortified at the thought of running into a parent and having them ask, “so! Who’s class is Bella in next year?” and having me say “I have absolutely no idea!”

    I love buying notebooks. Sigh.

  27. On August 16th, 2008 at 5:51 am theramblinghousewife Says:

    I was a teacher. Yup. I agree that the school supply lists are getting a little ridiculous. In my school district, they were made by the district and not the teachers. So they just assumed that I needed these all of these things in my second grade class room–even though they had never actually set foot in there–


    I hated that. 🙂

  28. On August 16th, 2008 at 10:37 am Queen-sized funny bone Says:

    I don’t know there, I was getting worried for a moment you made shopping for school supplies erotic.

  29. On August 16th, 2008 at 2:59 pm Painted Maypole Says:

    he he. our list was similar, but fortunately the PTA offers to buy everything you need for the”low low” price $70, and I went for it. My husband, who knows that i ALWAYS go bargain hunting, saying “I can get it cheaper at X” couldn’t believe I shelled out the cash. I said to him “Did you see the list? it was long and uber specific. no way was I spending all summer looking for that” “i’m proud of you” he replied

  30. On August 16th, 2008 at 10:03 pm magpie Says:

    I was so relieved to get the kindergarten packet today and find “no supplies” required for kindergarten. Yes, later, but not K.

    Why must they be so particular?

  31. On August 17th, 2008 at 9:10 am heather Says:

    Thank God for high school, we no longer have The List. Each teacher tells them if they need a folder with prongs or pockets, and that’s it. No glue sticks, no binders, no colored pencils, no graph paper, no pencil bag that must have three grommets in the side. College lined notebooks and ink pens – The End. Amen.

  32. On August 17th, 2008 at 10:22 am chris Says:

    While it’s important to have all the supplies on the first day so that your child is not the only kid who didn’t have his school supply, the teachers usually don’t care…
    I use to purposely send my children to school with out any supplies on the first day of school, except of course new school bag, new clothes, new shoes, and new see my new toys stuff. Suprisingly, when my children come home, they will have school supplies given to them by the teachers… Man I love teachers!

  33. On August 17th, 2008 at 5:22 pm Mumma Boo Says:

    Thankfully we don’t have the List – yet. The only thing we’re told repeatedly is don’t send peanut items for snack. This year, however, the teacher did ask for donations for the classroom, so I’ll get my fix of shopping for school supplies from that. Box of glue sticks, tissues and paper towels. Boom – I’m done. yee-ha!

  34. On August 17th, 2008 at 5:41 pm Kristen Says:

    OOOH! I loved getting school supplies as a kid! In fact, even though we homeschool, I still take the boys school supply shopping each fall-but we wait until all the kids are actually back in class to avoid the crowds. My favourite is ordering books and curriculum, nothing makes me happier than receiving boxes of shiny new books to read. ahhhh…
    Sounds like your lists are crazy though!
    Hope things are going well with you, I have been avoiding the computer like the plague – I have had a killer headache since last Wednesday, but I wanted to check in with you.

  35. On August 17th, 2008 at 10:50 pm wishing4one Says:

    Thanl God the Ben man remebered what he needed….but you still rock…

    I just did a letter to my parents, telling them what their kids need to bring to class. I will update and add that “Plastic covered, yellow, three subject, wide ruled, without perforations, that ALSO makes coffee for poor, poor teacher..”

  36. On August 18th, 2008 at 11:34 am As American as Apple Pie Says:

    All three Chiles were are in school this year so, YES, that’s 3 Lists. Ugh! I get giddy like you about the new stuff and this year was actually able to procure everything in 1 trip…after taking out a 2nd mortgage on the house to pay for it all. Have fun!

  37. On August 18th, 2008 at 11:55 am Melissa Says:

    ::snicker:: Your quest for school supplies reminds me of a little meltdown I had a few years ago over the subject. “The List” had uber-specific requirements in terms of what was expected for the little darlings regarding folder colors.

    Five stores later, not a damn black folder in sight.

    In a fit of rage (ingenuity? Cheek? Stick it to the man-itivity?) I bought a yellow folder and wrote “The role of Black Folder will be played by Yellow Folder for this performance” across the front of it.

    His teacher loved it. Evan? Not so much. 🙂

  38. On August 18th, 2008 at 12:19 pm Kristine Says:

    I am addicted to school supplies. Seriously. I stopped in the Target section for the $0.22 24 pack of crayons…and left with composition book (as if I need those), loose leaf paper, pens, and sharpies.

    In our area you can pay the PTA for the school supplies and they’re on the kid’s desk when they arrive on day 1. You should suggest that to one of the super duper all kinds of free time moms to organize that for next year.

  39. On August 18th, 2008 at 1:17 pm Dddiva Says:

    LMAO I don’t know whether to tell you it gets worse as the years go on or not. 😉
    The two littlest diva’s are in high school this year and it was still fun (NOT).
    However, the youngest aka geekazoid would so relate to the LOVE of school supplies, we had a giveaway for school supplies specially picked out for the winner by her and she loved it!
    She even blogged about her love of school supplies. Especially Sharpies. Hahaha. Freaks.
    My blog post is more along the lines of Back to school torture begins in the Loonyverse because hey, so not my favorite!
    Especially mornings.
    Really glad I stumbled across your blog- looking forward to reading more.

  40. On August 18th, 2008 at 2:54 pm Amanda Says:

    Oh how you make me smile… especially on days like today. Just because I feel all warm and fuzzy, I’m going to give you two awards!

  41. On August 19th, 2008 at 2:01 pm Fancy Schmancy Says:

    My boy just finished K-8 at Catholic School where you litterally had to buy every possible thing they could possibly ever need, including sending in paper towels and tissues for the classroom. For high school this year, I had to buy books and a special calculator, but when it came to school supplies, they said just send him in with a notebook and a pen the first day. I was stunned. And very pleasantly suprised!

  42. On August 19th, 2008 at 6:48 pm Jerseygirl89 Says:

    You know one of the things I loved about teaching in the ghetto? Knowing in advance that maybe half of the kids would bring in half of what was on my list, I got to buy TONS of school supplies. Heaven.

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