School Days, Sharp and Ready

My newly appointed middle-schooler asked me if he could have $50 as a going-to-school present. Excuse me? Is this the latest?

I’ve heard of gifts and wads of money being thrown into the air to celebrate the end of school, for good grades and graduation. I usually celebrate with smiles, hugs, and pats on the back. For what could be more memorable than that?

Besides, getting the kids ready for school these days will set parents back a few bills. It’s important to keep this in mind throughout your preparations:

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Let’s just start with the basics: The Backpack

My kids tell me that last year’s backpack is worthless; those zippers don’t work, it’s yucky, and that they need a sparkling new one. If I don’t buy my kids this, evidently they will be screwed for the entire year. Best to not mess with this scenario. You don’t want this on your head all year. Of course, darlings, whatever backpack you need.

My younger son wanted this one:

This backpack reportedly goes for $1 million dollars.
This backpack reportedly goes for $1 million dollars.

A backpack must accommodate a whole locker’s worth of material. It’s helpful if you are the Incredible Hulk.

But suppose you’re not. Enter the rolling backpack:

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Bonus, it doubles as a stylish piece of luggage, suitable for overnight trips.

I realize I’m happier knowing my kids will not have lockers, considering all the things that can go in them. The rolling backpack it is. It’s sensible and multi-purpose. Any future disappointments cannot be traced to this backpack. A good choice, and it better be, because he’s stuck with it.

Now on to something of which we have absolutely no choice: The Supplies List

If you have a child with multiple teachers, expect multiple lists. There is no gentle beginning. Kindergarteners and pre-schoolers are not off the hook. They, too, will have supplies to gather. While each year the supply list will closely resemble the previous year’s requests…oh, did I say requests, hmm…responsibilities….you will be faced with this same challenge each year:

Do I search throughout the house for supplies in cabinets and miscellaneous piles and bags, scattered here there and everywhere? 

It’s this:

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What are the chances of finding a complete set of anything?

I rationalize: Glue sticks and markers will be dried up, not all the colors will be represented, and the pencils won’t be sharp. We had a sharpener, but that broke, and who has time for the manual sharpening, because you know they will need a full pack of colored pencils on the first day, as well as that protractor I can’t seem to find. We had a ruler once, but I think it’s under the refrigerator. Speaking of, we’ll need new lunchboxes so lunch can be fun and fresh. Folders are cracked and unusable. The highlighters most certainly will be dull….

Should I…should I…just go for brand new supplies?

They’ll look like this:

Yes, that does say presharpened. They know what's up.
Yes, that does say presharpened. They know what’s up.

Don’t worry, they have thought of everything for you:

I made sure my kids didn't see pencils in the jumbo, swirl variety. That would set a precedent for future supply list wishes.
I made sure my kids didn’t see pencils in the jumbo, swirl variety. That would set a precedent for future supply list wishes.

Look at the little pretties:

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Primped and ready for school. So sharp.

If you think I’m over-excited and lazy, I’m not going to argue. And, kid, this cost more than fifty bucks. You’re welcome.

37 thoughts on “School Days, Sharp and Ready

  1. I’m hoping by the time college rolls around all textbooks will be downloadable to Kindle so they don’t have to lug 50-pound backpacks around. It’d be better for the environment, too.

    Never mind a going-to-school present–have you ever heard of a “push gift?” That’s a gift a husband is supposed to give a wife for going through labor. Gee…I wonder who invented that one?


    1. I think there will always be textbooks, because there’s too much money in them. That would be nice to not have to lug them around, and would be the perfect use of a Kindle since you usually don’t want to keep them. Although, then you couldn’t sell your books either.

      I’ve never heard of the “push gift,” nor did I ever receive one. What about c-sections? Does it become the cut gift? Sorry, I can’t resist!


      1. “…there’s too much money in them.”

        Ain’t that the sad truth?

        Thankfully, my wife thought the idea of a push gift to be idiotic. I can’t imagine be married to a woman who expected one.


      2. It is! They must make new textbooks every year, too. Got to stay current and keep with the new math program.

        I consider the child a gift! So precious. What could compare, right?


    1. The supply list, yes, it does boggle the mind! I’m never ready for it, and there’s this feeling that I must have it all completed or I’m not worst parent ever. We haven’t had the expensive calculator on the list it. Oh goody, something to look forward to.

      Thanks! Love him. He wanted to take that backpack home. I’ve never seen a bigger one!


  2. Oh, no! I had my sister (a.k.a.the childless school-supply fairy) buy them L.L. Bean backpacks so that they could use the same one until middle school (they replace everything!) Was that naive? I helped them make pony bead key chains to freshen up the look. We’ll see if my returning first grader figures out he’s been cheated!! (Happy back to school!)


    1. L.L. Bean is good quality, so hopefully it will last. I don’t think it’s naive. I’m hoping to get at least two years from the High Sierra pack on wheels. My son is unusually rough on things. Everything is really destroyed by the end of the year. Maybe you will have better luck! Pony bead chains! Oh, love that. At least if they do need a new one, they can transfer that (I know that’s not what you’re after). Happy back to school to you, too!


    1. We have a couple of those misc bags, Brenda. It’s as organized as I can be. They become the home supplies and are great to have around, and for impromptu coloring. It’s fun to dig in those bags for the perfect color!


  3. If one of my kids asked for $50 to “celebrate” the start of school, I’d just shake my head and say, “not gonna happen.” If that is really happening out there, it’s yet more evidence of our culture’s growing need to celebrate everything. It’s Tuesday!!! Here’s a gift!! As for the supplies list, yeah, it’s ridiculous, as is the need for massive backpacks. I get what you’re saying about them not having lockers, but I’d rather they have lockers so they don’t have to lug everything around all day long. The downside to lockers is this… “Do you have any homework to do?” “Yeah.” “Why aren’t you doing it?” “Left my book in my locker.” Can’t tell you how often that happens, particularly with my youngest, who is now a senior.


    1. Mark, that is exactly what I did when my son suggested this gift money for the beginning of school. Come again? Yeah, I laughed, and he was really kidding, although actually hoping. The supplies list would have been tough for my parents with six kids, and certainly nothing they ever had to do!

      I’m not sure why his middle school doesn’t have lockers. I think there’s not enough space with 1400 kids! Yes, so many. You’re right. The homework is in my locker excuse will not work. They keep books at home, too, because they don’t have a locker. Still his backpack has a ton of stuff in it, plus he carries a baritone to and from school (it’s huge!). I guess riding his bike to school is out of the question. Senior, wow. I bet it went by fast. I can’t believe mine is in middle school already.


      1. Me, too! I had a friend I walked with, but often did it by myself. It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? I didn’t mind the walking until I got to high school. That was a long walk.


      2. Ah, the bus. I never experienced that, and as you say, I guess far fewer people do nowadays. Just another thing cut from the ole’ chopping block. Field trips are such a big deal now, first to get a bus, and then to pay for the bus.


  4. No lockers? I still have nightmares about trying to find mine, and remembering the combination! Though I wouldn’t want to lug everything around all day, either. The rolling bags are a blessing. May the wheels hold up all year!


    1. Yeah, no lockers. I look around the campus and think it’s due to lack of space because there are 1400 students there! But, it may be due to other reasons, too. For one, they have only 8 minutes in between classes, which is fine if they have a class across the hall, but if they have a class across the quad it’s tough to make it in time. Also, I think about guns, drugs, etc. Who knows. It seems like there is none of that there, but middle school is a whole new world. I hope this backpack makes it for one year at least! I hoping for two. Thanks, Patti!


  5. Ah, yes the rolling backpack! Those are great because the heavy load doesn’t break their backs. My son started middle school last week and practically had a meltdown from worrying about his locker combination. I remember those days well. Too much stress for an 11 year old in my opinion.


    1. I hope the rolling backpack is worth it. I actually didn’t see many with the rolling kind. My son does have a locker for PE, and I think some kids use it for other things besides gym clothes. For three days, they worked on locker combinations in class. I thought that was so cute. I don’t remember anyone even helping me with mine when I was a kid. I had to figure it out. Of course, I didn’t go to middle school until I was twelve and almost 13.


  6. I’m sorry, I have to ask. What do you mean there are no lockers? Are they hauling around everything for every class all day long? What about jackets or boots or gym clothes, etc. I don’t have kids so I may be out of the loop here.


    1. No need to apologize, Michelle. I had no idea they’d have no lockers until right before school started. They keep some books at home and have a second set in the class. Still, my son has a ton of stuff in his backpack! It’s heavy. The rolling part probably adds some weight. I don’t know. They do have a locker for P.E. for gym clothes, and I think some use that for other stuff, too. Jackets and boots? Well, we’re in California, so need for those! Ha ha. I once had a locker. It’s like a rite of passage, right? It’s kind of weird that they don’t have one. I think they don’t have one due to space with 1400 kids at his school! Incredible!


      1. I think “right of passage” is spot on. You know you made it int he world of classrooms when you got your first locker to put your stuff in. This would be your first private space away from your parent’s prying eyes and only you had the combination. Oh, the thrill!


      2. Exactly, Michelle. It was that thrill of your own private stuff. Yes! That, too, is gone now. I think they get them in high school, but I’m not sure.


  7. I attended grade school in the sixties, Amy. I don’t remember much about my school supplies but my pencil case was a See’s molasses chip candy box and I was fine with that. It seems like kids have upgraded significantly. I love that picture of your son with the Land of the Giants backpack.


    1. Oh, I love that your supplies were in a molasses chip candy box. I wonder if they make that anymore. The supplies list is out of control, V. My parents didn’t have to do it. It would have been tough to do with six kids. I don’t know when the supplies list thing started. Ever since my kids have been school, that’s all I know. Nor, do I know if this happens all over. I get the sense that it does. Thanks! Land of the Giants, yes! He really did want to take it home. He could put a lot of stuffed animals in there.


  8. I’ve never had a locker throughout my school years, and everything turned out fine! I remember when the bags with wheels were “in”. My school had to ban them after a while because kids were always getting their feet run over.

    Also, stationery shopping has always been one of my most favourite things about school. I remember it was very expensive too!


    1. Zen, I wonder if this is a trend to not have lockers. Did you not have one in PE either? I can see the wheels getting in the way of toes. At my son’s school, there are not too many of the backpack on wheels. I guess it’s not as in now. He still really likes it, because his backpack is way heavy.

      The supply list is long these days! It costs more than I want to spend. Oh well!


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