School starts next Monday. While I am kinda looking forward to days NOT filled with arguments over who gets to watch what on the big TV, who called who stupid, and who hit who first, there are MANY things about school starting up again that suck.
I took all 4 kids back-to-school shopping for the 2 oldest. Not for clothes (yet), but for supplies.
When I was a kid, I loved to go back to school shopping. I was certain that this purple Trapper Keeper with the unicorn and the Velcro closure was going to ensure all A's. I just knew that the glitter #2 pencils were going to positively influence my test scores more than the boring yellow ones ever could. Then there were the myriad folders and notebooks in every color of the rainbow, with pictures of Smurfs, or Bugs Bunny, or Michael Jackson, or Kirk Cameron, or whoever or whatever I was obsessed with that year. There were the pencil boxes and pouches, the crayons, the markers, the protractors and rulers, the notebook paper, and the book bag and lunch box. It was awesome. I think one reason that I loved it was because it was all NEW and it was all MINE. Supply shopping was one of the highlights of the back-to school process. All of my shiny happy new school supplies distracted me from the fact that it WAS school for about a week or so. Along with the new clothes I had picked out for the first few days of school, these items made me look like the cover of the JC Penny catalog for at least a little while. It was exciting and a lot of fun to pick out your stuff for school.
I will tell you that this is NOT the case when you are the parent.
We went to shop for our school supplies and immediately I began getting irritated. It wasn't my kids (for once) that were the problem, it was the supply lists provided by the school and the teacher. My kids are in 2nd and 4th grade. I didn't even get everything and I spent over $150. The lists were a little ridiculous. I'm looking at the lists and I am convinced that the reason that I have to buy a lot of this crap is because there will be kids whose parents can't or won't provide these items for their kids. Otherwise, why would I need to buy TWO identical boxes of crayons? Or TWO rulers? Or 24 #2 pencils? I am also required to supply 5 red ink pens -- I am certain that these are for the teacher to mark up my kids papers all year, and a 4 pack of dry erase markers. So I am not just buying supplies for my kids and their classmates, but also for their teachers. Also annoying is the fact that the school lists are specific to the quantity and brands that they want you to buy. "90 sheet single subject wide ruled spiral notebooks (4)" -- great. They make 70 sheet and 120 sheet single subject wide ruled notebooks, but no 90 sheets (at least not at the 3 stores I have been to). "Plastic folders with pockets and brads, six, all different colors" -- really? I found 5. Not 5 colors, 5 total folders that fit that description in 3 different stores -- 2 black, 1 gray, 1 pink, and 1 purple. If I could, I would just buy the paper ones (which were EVERYWHERE) and laminate them and call them plastic. The fourth grade list includes "Four packs of 'Map Pencils'" -- what the heck are "Map Pencils??!" I had to ask. I found out that they are just colored pencils, but WHY does he need FOUR packs??? Just how many maps do fourth graders draw??! They need specific brands of erasers, specific brands of writing tablets, specific brands of glue, etc. Not just a 2-3 inch three ring binder, but a FABRIC three ring binder that ZIPS. Not just a ruler, but a flexible plastic ruler with holes. It is like some sort of sick, twisted scavenger hunt. Oh, and then there are the dry Clorox Wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, paper towels, and Ziploc bags (in 2 different sizes). Apparently us parents are supposed to supply the cleaning supplies, the grading implements, and the classroom supplies for the entire class for the entire year. And I STILL don't have it all. I will have to finish school shopping this weekend because school starts next Monday, but I am going without the kids. When they were with me, I had to buy Justin Beiber and Star Wars notebooks. I have enough requirements from the school without trying to accommodate the minions.
As bad as all of that is, the worst part about school starting up is that I have to get myself and the kids back on a schedule. I don't like schedules. I like to stay up late and I loathe getting up at anything close to a decent hour. Last week I stayed up reading until 4 am. Today I slept until noon. My kids have gotten very European this Summer -- we eat dinner around 9:00 and then party afterwards. We spend days in our PJs. I had 8 kids in the house Friday night and not one of them was asleep before 2 am. I do not like schedules, but the school system is really serious about theirs so I have to adjust despite my rebellious tendencies. They do not accept excuses like "I am sorry my kid was tardy this morning, but there was a "Dance Moms" marathon on last night and I couldn't look away, so I overslept this morning." Also, I am worried about my kids' teachers this year. I ended the year with the 3rd grade teacher on a bad note (see "Hey! Teacher! Leave My Kid Alone!") and I don't know what she may have told the fourth grade teachers about me and my son. I have had several suggestions from friends that I homeschool my kids. I look at these "friends" with a sort of sad amusement -- they obviously don't know me at all. Anyone who knows me knows that any attempt to homeschool my minions would result in court ordered therapy for all of us. However, I AM fairly certain that no one will be asking me to be the room mom this year....I guess that's something.