Thursday 27 Oct 2016

Supply Closet
Jennifer Flaten

I stand in the aisle, peering carefully at each box. I am looking for a purple, laminated, two-pocket folder with three hole clasps. Ah ha! I spot it. Quickly, I muscle another shopper out of the way to grab the last six folders that remain on the shelf. With a shout of glee, I toss them into my cart.

I am triumphant. I have managed to get everything, well almost everything, on the kids back to school shopping list. I had to forgo a few things on the list, but I swear those things were not valid school supplies.

Come on, what classroom needs 2 six packs of scrubby sponges per kid? Are these sponges really for the classroom or are the destined for the teacher's kitchen? Before you know it, there will be requests for a set of copper glad cookware on the list.

Is this school shopping or a housewarming?

If you think I am exaggerating, just wait, some day you will be standing in the aisle racked with indecision. Then you will understand the agony of trying to decide if you should go with the Rose Art crayons instead of the Crayola, which would save a few pennies, but may subject your kids to ridicule.

If the mere thought of school shopping makes you break out in a cold sweat then, you too, have been out shopping for items on a list that Satan himself designed.

Seriously, you can have one item described in utmost detail, like scotch tape. Which on my list was called out in excruciating detail, the roll had to " wide by 300ft long and the Scotch brand (no off brands please). Fine, it is easy enough to find that product.

Yet, the next item on the list was maddeningly vague. Someone wrote, "Stickers," with no adjectives. There was nary a word about kind or how many stickers; not even a brand name. Nope, all it said was stickers. I thought I might begin to weep in frustration.

Truly, I think the teachers are testing the parents. I can picture them coming up with these absurd school lists, thinking HA let them figure out what size locker shelf to get!

Therefore, no surprise here, I skipped getting the stickers. I also skipped getting the industrial size tubes of antibacterial wipes.

Antibacterial wipes, which are in addition to the disinfectant wipes, also industrial size, and hand sanitizer, two enormous jugs of hand sanitizer. It appears that my kindergartner is going to be working with Ebola. Well, how else do you explain the overzealous sanitation?

Now you may think the agony ends when you ring out at the store. Not so, you must trundle, what amounts to the entire Office Max store to the kid's classroom. Once you get the supplies to the classroom, you are lucky to get out without receiving a lecture because you bought the wrong size pencil box.

At my particular school, we received a note home after the first day of school. This note indicated that the school is generously providing a take home folder for the students.

This little folder costs $1.00 and if it should be lost, mangled or mutilated beyond recognition you will cough up $1.00 to replace it. Since this is an average paper folder, not one made of titanium and the kids have it in their backpack every single day, I expect we will be paying out a dollar shortly.

My first thought, is if they have all these folders why did I just buy a gross them from OfficeMax?

Gone are the days when you showed up at school with a pencil and some paper.

Now you are required to show up with pencil cases, backpacks, markers, dry erase markers and about 52 glue sticks.

Ah, glue sticks the bane of my existence. The list always demands about six glue sticks and they all have to be jumbo! Do you know how much those cost?

It is so much I can't even bring myself to write it. Not to mention, you have to be careful, if you get a glue stick with Hannah Montana's face on it that will cost you about $.50 more then the plain glue stick.

In fact, I bet you didn't know that the schools expect you to sharpen the pencils before you get to school. You better set aside a couple of hours to stand at the sharpener.

This leads to a question that has been nagging me since my kids started school. Why don't pencils come sharpened from the factory?

Pens come from the factory filled with ink; crayons come with their little tips already to go, only pencils come unsharpened. Why is this? Moreover, why can't kids sharpen the pencils at school?

It is not as if they do anything productive in the first week anyway. In the first week they manage to accomplish, several pep assemblies and classes about how they are all going to love and respect each other, but no real work.

As any parent can tell you, homework doesn't come home until sometime in mid October. Therefore, they don't need the pencils immediately. Besides, they could always use one of those Rose Art crayons.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

More by Jennifer Flaten:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.

Please report typos or corrections
to the editor