Back to School or Bust

            If you have ever taken your children back to school shopping, you know the utter chaos that enters your life when you enter the store. With school supply lists in hand, we entered the local Staples with high hopes and a limited budget. And so the adventure began.

            Pencils, check. Pens, red and blue, check. Highlighters, check. Paper, check. Folders, check. If it only were that simple. It seems that life, and back to school shopping, has all become more complicated. There are specific things each child needs, in specific quantities, colors and sizes. It reminds me of a scavenger hunt gone wild, or those Where’s Waldo books where you search for the striped-shirt guy hiding amidst the chaotic scenery.

            You will have to excuse me as the details are blurry, but it went something like this.

            Riley and Colin each needed 24 sharpened pencils, but the pencils only came in boxes of 10 or 40. Colin only needed 1 eraser but Riley needed 4. Erasers were sold in packs of 6. Colin needed an expandable folder with seven or eight pockets, and the cloth one was suggested, though they cost $24, so I went with the $7 plastic one. I like to live on the wild side.

            Colin needed 1 college ruled spiral notebook (and yes there is a difference), at least 70 pages, and 2 packs of college ruled loose leaf paper. Riley needed loose leaf paper and an expandable folder as well, but 120 pages and 10 dividers.  Oh there were glue sticks in varying numbers, scissors, markers, crayons and colored pencils. We had to locate pencil pouches and art boxes, pencil sharpeners, and journals. We walked up and down the aisles checking off each item on each individual list as we went, deciding whether to split the packages and share the items, or buy each child his own set.

I finally lost my cool when I discovered that Colin needed 1 pack of 3 x 5 index cards and 3 packs of 4 x 6 index cards, and they were only sold in 5 packs. That was when I opened one of the 4 boxes of Kleenex we bought to wipe my tears.

            My high schoolers needed five to seven one and a half inch three ring binders and tabbed dividers for their courses, which are not cheap. And each of my four children needed backpacks this year as their old ones were falling apart. That really added up and strained the budget.

I had been tracking our spending until we were an hour in, and then I was just too tired to care any longer. On our walk to the check out, Riley found a different pencil pouch with a cool peace sign design, and the whining began. “please, please, please, Mommy…” At that point, my brain had shut down and my budget was already blown, so I did what any mom would do to stay sane. I said yes to the $6 pencil pouch and tried to forget how much extra money we were spending.

Now school has started, and all of those supplies are being put to good use. Summer has ended, and I am trying to work on a new back to school list. I am starting the school year with high hopes trying to find joy, peace and love amidst the chaotic schedules that lie ahead.

I can only hope they are on sale.

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Posted by Trish Berg 8:20 AM  


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