Yes, I was that mum, talking to herself in the aisles Friday afternoon. And while the lowest price might be the law, it wasn’t easy to hit the red button and buy school supplies in a timely fashion.
Two-and-a-half hours. Two different stores, with a return to the first to make a return – one lowly pencil sharpener: $3.15 back onto debit.
True, $3.15 was nary a dent in the $100 I just shelled out for grade one and grade three combined, but I considered it a victory for the planet. The last thing we need is more plasticy waste in the world. That blue sharpener with container attached will be very happy with a different family.
Last year school supply shopping was a cinch. I wrote a cheque to the PAC and voilà, school supplies magically appeared in September.
But this year our PAC didn’t set it up, so we parents were left to consult one another in the crowded aisles about what constituted primary scissors; left to rummage through bins hoping against hope shopping on the second to last Friday before school wasn’t for not and the holy grail of Crayola would appear: 1 box of 8 (8 only please) thick felts (Crayola originals).
Buying school supplies is both a lesson in economics and reading comprehension. Sure, you just saw that felts were $3.00 at the last store, but you ain’t going back so the new store’s price is a great deal. And, the grade three list states Miss Q needs 4 interlined exercise books (no key tabs); key phrase: ‘no key tabs’. So after reading the line seven times at two different stores and finding no alternatives, you take the plunge and buy the small dark blue Hilroys.
Of course, the books could be returned if they aren’t the right ones, the last thing I want is for Miss Q to live through the mortal embarrassment like I did when in grade six when my mum sent me to school with small, lined books, and everyone in my class had the large ones with key tabs. I am certain that was the reason my teacher thought my creative writing stories were fantastically long – I was using more pages than the rest of the class because they were smaller… Yeah, that’s right.
I did try to save the world this school supply season by emptying the duo tangs Miss Q and Miss S brought home last year and setting them aside. We have 10, possibly 11 pristine tangs that could handedly be sent back to school to be filled again. I was even going to buy stickers to cover the labels stuck on by last year’s teachers… until I saw the price of the stickers, $4.89, vs. the price of the new duo tangs, $0.05. Why is saving the world so expensive??
But I’m not deterred. Even though I purchased 12 new duo tangs at 5 cents apiece, I will spend next year scouring the earth for cheaper duo tang stickers and then, then watch me reuse.
Speaking of reusing, thanks to the teachers who returned Miss Q’s unused supplies at the end of each year, we are the proud owners of 42 sharpened HB pencils. Neither child will need new ones, even with the suspected typo on Miss S’s grade one list: 2 Mirando, Venus pencils (pre-sharpened).
Two pencils for the entire year? I think not. Miss Q needs 24. I’m sure that line on Miss S’s list is missing the word ‘boxes’ as in 2 boxes. I’m also sure, after turning to the Internet, that Mirando, Venus pencils don’t exist, so an ‘or’ must also be missing.
Of course, not every child is like Miss Q: responsible with her supplies. I know there are kids out there who, like beavers, will devour entire boxes of pencils before their first week is over. Erasers will be lost, drawn on, riddled with lead holes. Rulers will be snapped in half. Markers will be confiscated. Parents will be crying as they return to the aisles they recently shook their heads in, swore in, wanted to tackle people in.
Side note: if you are going to go school supply shopping: leave your children at home, and buy a luxury item for yourself before you start. In my case venti English Breakfast, so you can wander the aisles in tranquility, while you hunt for bloody white Staedler erasers and 2 black white board markers that don’t come in packs of four.
My hope is one day the trend of everything old is new again will hit our schools. Children will be sent to school with chalk and a slate. They’ll carry their lunches in milking pails, and the only thing churning will be butter, not corporate back to school. Elmer’s School Glue much?
For now, I stare into the sea of what needs to be labeled, even though the lists specifically say not to, bold and underlined.
I do respect the plight of the teacher, honestly I do. My mum was one, and my dad was a principal, my husband still pays his dues. I know parents, like students, and nuts, are a mixed bag. Some, like me, are conscientious, while others couldn’t care less. I don’t mind sending boxes of Kleenex and any other random supplies needed throughout the school year. I don’t mind the pooling of classroom supplies either. The reason I ignore the no label request is because these supplies are expensive. If I can reduce the waste, and reuse for future years, I will.
So here’s to the school supplies. Thank you for making me feel like a bonafide adult; may you help Miss S and Miss Q create amazing things next year.