Tuesday, August 19, 2008

School Supplies!

I LOVE "back to school" time. Love it! I have very fond memories of going back to school shopping. My mom would drive us to the mall, hand over $200 in cold, hard CASH, and tell us to have at it but spend wisely. That money was all we would get out of our parents for clothes and the like for the entire school year (not counting Christmas - we usually could count on getting a new something from them under the tree). But that money had to stretch to cover everything down to shoes. And so you quickly discover that while $200 might seem like a lot at first it really doesn't go all that far. So my sister and I, with the money burning holes in our pockets, would descend upon the Brass Plum department of Nordstroms like tornadoes. We had a strategy: pick out everything you like to try on and we'd meet up in the dressing room to compare. My sister was just one grade below me in school, so our style and size were essentially the same. If we both picked out the same item the negotiating would begin. We were saavy enough to recognize the stupidity of both of us buying the exact same thing. So we'd strike deals. YOU buy that sweater and I'll buy this one, and we'll share them both! Which is a good plan on paper but tough in practice. "Hey! *I* was going to wear that sweater today!" or "You KNEW I was planning on wearing that today but I can't because YOU got it all scuzzy!" Oh the joys of school mornings with several adolescent girls trying to get ready at the same time....

Now that I have my own kids, I still look forward to school shopping. Thankfully they are too young to give a rats ass about the clothes they wear, but they do get excited about buying school supplies. Ah, the smell of fresh, new Crayolas... My mom has started a neat tradition with the kids where she takes them out shopping for a few new Back to School things. I arm her with their lists as well as a list of my own of what they need (Nicholas needs jeans and sneakers, Lauren needs long-sleeved shirts and a coat, for example) and Grandma gets busy. It's taken us a few attempts to get the bugs worked out - like having to explain to my mom that I don't really care for character items and would prefer to not dress the kids in head-to-toe Cars gear,no matter WHAT Lauren says. (sidenote: my kids have been overheard on several occasions saying, "Mama doesn't buy character stuff - keep walking" when in Target lately. It's working!) The shopping trip with Grandma was last week and my mom picked out really cute stuff for the kids. She has a preference for Lands End and they each got a few needed clothing items from there. Love it! Lauren picked out some adorable light blue Mary Jane's with horses on them. ("horses don't count as characters, right Mama?!" Right. Horses are OK with me.) Grandma also hooked them up with a few supplies from their lists, which is also very appreciated.

Yesterday was my day to fill in the blanks. The kids and I hit the stores to pick up a few things we still needed in order to be ready for school. I found some good sales and got Nicholas a couple of pairs of pants and a shirt. Mama even got a new shirt and skort for 75% off! Oh yeah! Lauren got a new pair of pants and both kids got sneakers. And we got every last thing on their supply lists. Gawd! I can wait a little longer before getting Lauren the winter coat she'll need or the pair of non-sneaker shoes Nicholas should probably have. Space things out a bit.

There was one situation that reminded me very forcibly of the negotiation my sister and I used to do during back to school shopping. Nicholas is into Webkinz right now and could help but notice a Webkinz school supply kit at the store. "Please Mama! I LOVE Webkinz and it's for school supplies! Can we get it? Pleeeeaaaasseee??!!" For $14.99, I don't think so. Plus, it didn't have anything in it that matched his supply list. The ruler was the wrong size. He didn't need pencils. The case was wrong, etc. I told him we'd keep looking but keep it in mind. I explained how it didn't have the right kind of supplies he'd need. "But Mom, I can just use the Webkinz supplies at home. You know, to help me do my homework?!" Nice try, kiddo. Then, at Target he spied a backpack he really liked. It was sort of a camo backpack with a spider and about a million little pockets all over it. His old backpack is in perfect condition, except it's too small. It's a "youth" size and folders and stuff get dog-earred when he zips it up. He really should have something a little bigger. So we struck a deal: he could have the new camo/spider backpack, but it would mean no Webkinz supply kit. He had think a minute before agreeing to go with the backpack as long as we could maybe keep our eyes open for Webkinz stickers (do they even MAKE Webkinz stickers??!) that he could have to use on his folders and stuff. You know, since he isn't going to get the actual Webkinz school supplies. OH the old days of negotiating at Back To School time - ! I agreed to his condition and we got the backpack, which he now claims to be his most favorite new thing for school.

And so the house is filled with the smells of new jumbo pink erasers and unsharpened pencils. And new shoes. And excitement about going back to school. Who will my teacher be? Who will be in my class? All the unanswered questions that contribute to the exciting anticipation. We won't know for another week or two. But we'll be happily spending that time, those last lazy days of summer, organizing the new school supplies, weeding out old clothes that no longer fit, and adjusting the bedtime schedule. School starts the day after Labor Day.

We're (almost ) ready. Are you?

Interesting..! I too have some nice memories of going back to school shopping.
Hmmmm -- I loved back to school shopping. But here? You pay a flat fee at the beginning of the year and all the supplies are, well, supplied. Kind of boring.

WE are doing clothes shopping though. But it doesn't yield the same smell as an eraser.
I have fun with it too. I think I have more exciting memories when I was older than my kids (junior high age shopping for clothes). My kids are not into clothes shopping at all and would wear all their old clothes if given a choice. They have no desire for new clothes which makes it hard to spend money on. I will buy the necessities for the year (new tennis shoes, jeans, coats etc). our school offers the supply box for a flat fee but it is SO expensive that I refuse to buy that. We go and find things on sale and use things we already have (scissors, highlighters, school boxes etc) because I think it is a rip off. I like to buy it myself!
Oh yeah! Love the shopping and the excitement and anticipation. It has already worn off with my
5th grader. Mine started school last week. I think the older they get the shorter the excitement phase. My kindergartner is still in awe of all things school. He loves to put on his new Cars backpack and carry his new Cars lunch box (both my husbands doing). I don't care for the character stuff either.
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