This post originally appeared waaaay back in 2009, my first kick at the can that is school supply shopping. In 2010, it was a non-event, with lowered standards, and a wee bit more savvy, on my part.
2011 was a guerilla affair. A free afternoon and a “let’s get this shit over with” attitude. The option of a pre-packaged bunch of supplies, through the kids’ school was offered to me. And the masochist in me teamed up with my swiss-cheese brain to deny me that option.
So today, I dove in, list in hand. I was doing well, not being a slave to the list, making flexibility my watch word. Until I got to this item:
“1 – exercise book (40 pg) – Redi tabs with tabs (4 per pak)”
WHAT INTO THE FUCK IS THAT??? Books with tabs? One book with 4 tabs, but a pack of 4 of them?
I called my go-to friend for these situations. (I have no idea why she still takes my calls, this time of year.) Even she came up flummoxed.
And as I felt a struggle coming on, I was rewarded.
With my very own personal shopper.
No kidding. One of the guys at the big box stationery store (rhymes with Maples) asked me if he could help. We joked about the screening process for children who didn’t show up with the right size glue stick
(“You brought the 21g size? You were specifically asked for the 40g. No third grade for you this year, Smith! Hit the bricks!”) Sensing he was one of the good guys, I enlisted him to help with the exercise book conundrum. And he did. And then he just kind of took my list and did my shopping.
I think I saw god.
Anywho, just in case you forgot, here’s what it was like (but only sort of) the first time around:
Dear Mrs. X:
In just over a week, you will be my son’s Grade 1 teacher. He is ever so excited to be under your tutelage. Why, since the last day of kindergarten, entering your class was all he could talk about. He gleefully thrust a piece of paper into my hand on that June afternoon, and said, “Here’s a list of the stuff I need for school next September!”
And I have to admit, I, too, was excited. I’m a school supplies geek from way back. And so, in early August, I set out to buy the items you’d listed.
It was on my fourth store that the realization began to sink in.
You’re a crafty bitch, aren’t you?
This list was a thinly disguised test. Could I find the items, exactly as you’d prescribed? Because if not, my son would be That Kid, the one with the Problem Mother, Who Can’t Follow Directions.
For example, the glue sticks you requested. In the 40 gram size. Three of the little buggers. (What kind of massive, sticky project you’ve got planned for the first day of school that would require the students to bring all this glue, I cannot imagine.) But the 40 gram size doesn’t come in a convenient 3-pack. The 30 gram size does. But clearly, those would be wildly inappropriate. So I got the individually priced 40′s, as per your instructions.
Another bit of fun was your request for 2 packs of 8 Crayola crayons (basic colors). The 24 packs, with their 24 different colors, sat there, on sale. I could have purchased three of the 24 packs for the price I had to pay for the 8 packs. (Clearly, you’ll not be teaching the youngsters any sort of economics lessons this year.) Even the cashier looked at me, as if to say, “Pardon me, ma’am, but are you slow?” as I purchased these non-bargain crayons. But that’s what the list said. And I was committed to following the list.
But the last item, well, now, you saved your malice up for that one, didn’t you? “8 mm ruled notebooks”, you asked for. Simple enough. Except the standard size is seven millimetres. One. Millimetre. Difference. Do you realize, Mrs. X., exactly how infinitesimal the difference between 7 mm ruling and 8 mm ruling is? Pretty small, I assure you. The thickness of a fingernail, approximately. But that millimetre, that small bit of nothingness, made me drive to four different stores, over the course of three sweaty August hours. And when I finally, finally found the last remaining 8 mm notebooks, I took no pleasure in my victory. I merely shifted my focus. To you, Mrs. X.
You wanna dance, lady? Let’s dance.
Because I am just batshit crazy enough to play your games. And, in turn, come up with some of my own.
On show and share day, my son will be bringing the video of his birth. It will be labelled, “Ben’s First Puppy.” Enjoy.
He will be given a list of words, and daily, he will ask you what they mean. Words such as, “pedophile”, “anti-semite”, and “skank”. Good luck with those.
At some point, you will attempt to teach him mathematics. And I’m quite sure that, like most of your ilk, you will require my son to “show his work”. And he will.
Through interpretive dance.
Because that is who you’ve chosen to tangle with, toots. A stay at home mom who is not entirely balanced, and has altogether too much time on her hands. But is, most certainly, A Mother Who Can Follow Directions.