Oh joy, the school supply lists arrived by email this week. Of course, as many of you know, this is only the first round of supply lists, the one that we learned a long time ago doesn’t always jibe with what the teachers actually require the kids to have. This is the supply list that can have parents literally acting as if they are contestants on "The Amazing Race," flying around like crazy people in search of that two-pocket orange folder that one teacher insists is absolutely necessary, even when it appears that two-pocket orange folders quite literally do not exist anywhere in the universe. And neither does that orange notebook.
12 Glue Sticks?!
https://www.instagram.com/p/BmTvo7nAji6/?taken-by=esanzi This is the supply list that includes 12 glue sticks for a middle schooler who—if we’re being honest—may not touch a glue stick the whole year. It is often a highly generalized hodgepodge of traditional school supplies that, likely out of desperation, some evil genius knew would help quell the wrath of the parents who just can’t stand to wait. The parents who call, email and post in Facebook groups about school supplies and how they just need to buy them NOW. I suspect the thinking goes that maybe those parents will divert their time and energy to worrying about a different #FirstWorldProblem if we just give them a few items they can buy—maybe even for a bargain—before the first day of school. Pencils. A pencil case. Everyone needs those, right? I am looking at a sixth-grade list right now and I really do have to wonder if my son will actually use the pink, yellow, orange and green highlighters that appear on the list. Or are those the acceptable colors from which we get to choose the one highlighter he needs. Truth be told, I could probably find all of these colors in one of my junk drawers—you know, those absurd clutter hell holes that never have what you’re looking for but are always filled with the most random crap that only the Good Lord knows why you are saving. I always find mini tape measures, dental floss, medicine dispensers and football mouth guards in mine. And chapstick. There is always chapstick in there. Usually stuck to a half opened cough drop. Interestingly enough, the sixth-grade list says that headphones—or earbuds—are
required. I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten a list before that listed earbuds/headphones as a required item (although having spent a decade working in middle and high schools, I do know that earbuds are basically like adolescent pacifiers so I’m thinking that I’ll be buying the teacher a few extra pairs of those). Truth is, I will likely spend these last couple weeks of summer with earbuds perpetually lodged in my own ears because OMG, we still have more than two weeks till school starts. Now I am positive I bought a wireless mouse last year (but I have absolutely no idea if that thing ever even came out of the package). Index cards are always a funny thing too. I buy them by the hundreds but then on the rare occasion in late spring that one of my kids actually needs index cards, we can’t find a single one in the house (because they are probably at school at the bottom of a locker where they’ve been since the first day of school).
The calculator listed under the supplies for math class probably makes the most sense of anything on the list. Well, other than pencils and composition notebooks. And interestingly, language arts only wants a one-pocket folder but math would like a two-pocket folder and social studies would like two folders. Science would also like a two-pocket folder and some scotch tape. If I’m smart, I’ll just buy everything I need for wrapping Christmas presents while doing the school supply run since Christmas decorations (and wrapping supplies) will probably be blanketing most stores by the time I actually get there. Or should this be the year I get everything on Amazon Prime? That would sure beat wandering around Staples and hearing—on a headache-inducing loop—“No Mom, she said it HAS TO BE THIS KIND…” Raise your hand if you’ve ever shopped for school supplies with your tween without dropping an f-bomb. Good, now can you teach me how?
An old friend of mine—hat tip to Laurie from Wisconsin—did make a great suggestion when it comes to back-to-school shopping. She says to buy the poster boards and tri-fold posters now to avoid those high-anxiety late-night runs to the store when that really big project is due TOMORROW. Those are fun rides, especially for the kid sitting shotgun and listening to an oldie but goodie parent rant about responsibility, time management and how mom is sooooooo done saving their ass at the last minute. This is the last time, kiddo. (Am I the only mom who seems to have forgotten the literal meaning of “last time”? I’m going to work on that this year.) I know many of you have already survived summer vacation and are totally done with the whole back-to-school thing as your kids are already back in school. (I see you Nashville, Memphis and Indy!) But to all of you moms gearing up for battle with school uniforms, school supplies, lunch boxes and new shoes, I tip my hat to you for what I already know will be a job well done. Speaking of lunch boxes, did I ever even empty out the ones that came home the last day of school? If you ask me, making it to the first day of school and getting the cherubs up and out the door with a pencil in hand and minimal bedhead is sort of the definition of awesome. And for the record, Crayola markers are on sale at the Christmas Tree Shop right now. They weren’t even on the list but I couldn’t help myself and bought two packs anyway.
Friendly reminder: Many schools need extra supplies throughout the year but especially at the beginning to start the year off strong. So if you are looking to lend a hand in a tangible way, adopt a high need school in and find out what they may need.
Erika Sanzi is a mother of three sons and taught in public schools in Massachusetts, California and Rhode Island. She has served on her local school board in Cumberland, Rhode Island, advocated for fair school funding at the state level, and worked on campaigns of candidates she considers to be champions for kids and true supporters of great schools. She is currently a Fordham senior visiting ...