The Sadism of School Supply Lists

My school supply for two children list reads longer than a 2 week vacation packing list for a family of four during which time they will be traveling to the mountains and the beach and at some point will have to attend a wedding.

magic rub eraser“4 large pink erasers“ Why? Why do they have to be pink? Do pink erasers erase better than purple erasers? And what of the Magic Rub® eraser? Nothing I can erase all your mistakes and make you feel good as new like a magic rub, amiright?

“6 ball point pens: 2 red, 2 blue, 2 green, medium point.” What? No black? Blue pen ink is like blue eye shadow – only to be used ironically. 3 highlighters: 1 pink, 1 yellow, and 1 orange – chisel tip.” What will happen if we send them to school with … BLADE tipped highlighters? Will they be sent home? Fined? Shamed? “Clear water bottle” Why? Because they want to make sure they’re not filling they’re water bottles with Gatorade or Red Bull or Jack Daniels? They’re only forcing them to learn the difference between clear and dark spirits at an earlier age (though I can neither confirm nor deny that our children may have some basic knowledge already).

parts of pencilThe list is long and the cost staggering – even when I try to piece together all the supplies that we have left over from years past. What if the box of 24 crayons only has 19 left, of which 2 are grey? And the 1 dozen sharpened pencils they want? I’ve got lots of pencils. Most of them are sharpened down to the pencil ferrule. Yeah, I said “ferrule.” Yeah, I searched for it. Just like you probably just searched for “aglet” or “frenulum” because I sent you on a mental scavenger hunt for useless words you always forget.

Digression for my Midwestern Lady Friends of a Certain Age. Remember Chandler’s assignment notebooks? Remember affixing all the markers to the top in rainbow order and then covering the cover in so many puffy stickers that it looked more like a pillow than a book? I don’t remember needing anything else but my Chandler’s. I do remember going school supply shopping, so I’m sure that there were other requirements. I am sure, however, that my parents did not have to choose between buying school supplies and the cable bill – mostly because there was no cable, which explains why I was aware that there was a televised soybean report at 6am.

I also remember going clothing shopping with my mother. I did not look forward to that at all. I was not allowed to wear jeans to school until middle-school when I put my foot down. And when I put my foot down, it was as if I was wearing tap shoes because I was also not allowed to wear sneakers or any kind of shoe that did not provide foot support. Oh how I yearned for Docksides! When I walked down the halls at school, I could hear children in their classes saying, “Shhh! The teacher is coming back!!” because of the clip-clip-clipping that my hard-soled, non-sneaker shoes. From a distance, I could have passed for a teacher with my clip-clip shoes and my slacks and my color-coordinated ensembles.

My children are not so bothered about clothes – possibly because I allow, nay encourage, them to wear jeans AND sneakers. They can stand out in other ways – ways of their choosing. My mother always used to say to us, “Why be in sitting when you can be outstanding??” All well and good until your mother makes you dress like a 40-year old. That’s not the kind of standing out any child should endure.

I suppose I don’t need our kids to stand out with their purple erasers, blade-tipped highlighters, and tinted water bottles filled with Jack either. They’ll just have to make their own mark…washable marks from their boxes of 8, fine-tipped markers.




2 thoughts on “The Sadism of School Supply Lists

  1. I love school supply shopping! LOVE IT. The start of a new year! Blank notebooks that could be filled with information or thoughts or words! I get excited about pens (though I prefer fine point) and pencils (mechanical, .05mm) and highlighters! My kids’ lists have always been short and disappointing because the school provides almost everything. Do you need me to come help?

    1. Yes! Please get here as soon as possible so that you can go on this school supply scavenger hunt with me. Perhaps you can help me find the joy in school supply shopping once more.

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