The ^@%#! Supplemental School Supply List

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I’m a pretty organized mom, although not as organized as I was back when I only had two kids. I’m not the mom who has the first day of school chalkboard or photo backdrop popular with Pinterest moms, but just the old-school, organized mom. (Yeah, sure. As soon as I crack that chart code.)


Among other basic organizational things, I do the back-to-school shopping well before school starts. It seems simple enough, no? The PTA makes it extra easy. Ours buys and packages* school supplies that we can purchase as the previous year ends. So with the exception of lunch boxes and fun pencils, I’m pretty much done shopping for classroom supplies before summer starts.

So why am I at Target on the second day of school? Well, for one, I’m a bad boycotter. Target is close and cheap, the people are nice, and I just don’t get Walmart’s layout, so finding stuff takes longer. For two, the ^@%#! supplemental list.

Every year the kids come home from day one with some list of additional items. They aren’t exotic items for some teacher’s pet project—as if the teachers are allowed to design an off-testing-curriculum project — and they aren’t the same from year to year. Oh, some number of wide-ruled composition books appears on the list every day two, but other items this year were note cards and glue sticks. Why couldn’t these things have been included in the original list?


List delivery is not the problem. Our school district is now on an automated flyer system. (Finally! Although I do know plenty of moms who are vexed by automation and prefer ink on wood pulp — it’s a transition point, and more on that another day.) At any time last week, the school could have sent out the supplemental lists.

It’s not like they are overly concerned about spamming our inboxes, either. With four kids, the middle weeks of August see a steady stream of forms, schedules, lists, reminders, corrections to each of those, and then reminders of the reminders. It’s just the way it is at the beginning of the year. I would have preferred a supplemental school supply list email last week, rather than a busy first week trip to rummage through picked-over bins of composition notebooks. And so would the nanny, the grandmother, and the two other moms with whom I commiserated in the pen aisle this afternoon.


* Funny story about the packaging and chores, a fitting follow-on to last week’s entry. The supplies are bundled in a box for each child and shrink-wrapped. The 3rd grade team leader had spent hours the past few years opening those boxes and sorting the supplies. This year she had the inspiration that the kids should sort their own boxes at Meet the Teacher. In the past there had been room scavenger hunts while the moms and dads filled out the (obligatory and repetitive) forms. Instead of distracting the children, she thought to have them participate in the prep. She had the team set up bins at the front of their rooms for the children to find and open their bundles and put the highlighters with the other highlighters and the scissors with the other scissors. This is not an onerous task for third grade, i.e. 8 to 9-year-olds. More mothers than you’d expect did (or heavily supervised) the sorting.



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