Back-to-school time has excited me ever since I can remember. New school supplies! New clothes! Seeing friends I hadn't seen all summer! What's not to love?
The excitement increased exponentially once I had school-aged children because, not only did I have the fun of shopping for stationery (OCD heaven!), but I could look forward to whole hours of the day that were relatively quiet.
|Brian's first day of junior kindergarten, in 2000.|
Can you even believe how cute he is?
But this year, something's missing.
Our youngest graduated from high school in June and has opted not to take any post-secondary program, for now. Our older kids are well installed in their programs and don't really need much in the way of typical back-to-school supplies.
|I'm pretty sure they mean 99 cents, not 0.99 cents, but I'm seriously tempted to bring this in to Target |
and demand that I be allowed to purchase these items for a penny each.
Having said that, I am beyond happy that I don't have to fork over wads of cash every August.
When I was growing up, all the materials were supplied by the schools, but by the time our kids were school-aged, funding cuts meant that each student had to bring a backpack full of supplies on Day One. And the requirements for that stock became ludicrously specific.
|Emily and Brian make their way to the first day of school of our first year in Colorado Springs.|
(I was carrying Brian's backpack for some reason. Probably because it was filled with 150 pounds of school supplies.)
Complicating matters, each classroom had unique requirements. One teacher might require a red binder, a green binder, and a blue one, while another might require six different report covers. I would end up making trips to multiple stores all over town.
I get it. I understand that the costs of supplies were downloaded to the families, but when you're kitting out several kids, it really adds up. I used to estimate $150 per child for supplies and basic fall clothes and shoes. For a median single-income family, that's pretty punishing; we were fortunate.
And I realize that teachers routinely supplement these supplies out of their own pockets, which they shouldn't have to do.
It's back-to-school season, and I am nostalgic. I may have to borrow someone's school-aged child and take them out shopping.
|Even then, he didn't like his paparazzi mama.|