My bestie and I were on an errand from God on Sunday. 1.) Because she was getting a new phone after almost chucking hers out the window because it wouldn’t text and other highly necessary operations that are a must for the technically connected… and 2.) because the monster needed his school supplies and there would be no other time to do it in their busy schedule before Meet Your Teacher night later in the week.
She was feeling oddly bad for me because I would be standing around in a phone store looking longingly at the phones that I couldn’t afford because I’m painfully poor and am days away from having a really professional and good paying job which will actually put me back in the economy’s middle class ranking, so she suggested we divide and conquer to make things move a little faster and be more productive. I would drop her off at the phone store then run and get the school supplies. Sounds easy, right? I was excited because I don’t go with the girls, their grandmother is extremely generous in offering each year to buy their supplies for them, so I would get the experience without the stress of it being with my own children arguing over Hello Kitty folders and Frozen backpacks.
No, that’s not even what happened. When I walked into the store the school supplies were directly in front of me and the mass chaos that was ensuing was both shocking and eye-opening to me as a parent as well as a teacher.
And here is where I revolt from my fellow teachers and throw them all to the wolves. Because we are BAD people. I mean bad, as in were are definitely going to hell bad.
I walk up to the school lists and begin to read, thinking, not too bad, not horrible. But then I start searching for the items and realize, these are really specific items being requested on this list. (5) folders, but they must be red, blue, green, yellow, and purple. I get the plastic folders because I know my friend’s son and I think, “hey, he won’t be able to destroy these, at least not easily, right?” So I start looking for the appropriate colors and find all but a yellow.
I am defiant by nature, so when I can’t find a yellow in the plastic version I refuse to switch to the paper version. It’s just principle now. So I get orange instead. It’s in the yellow family, a secondary color created by its primary counter parts yellow and red. Orange will be the new yellow.
Next I had to find specific amounts of crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Lets be honest, none of the amounts he was supposed to have were correct, me being a teacher I’m thinking, “More is better, right?” 36 colored pencils instead of 24, 10 markers instead of 8, what could 2 additional colors hurt?
Then came the dry erase markers. I don’t disagree with the purchase of these, but when the girls are specified to bring “fine tip” and the boys “chisel tip” I draw the line. Last time I’m brought dry erasers chisel tip was the norm so I’m thinking easy peasy. Nope, apparently fine tip is all the rage these days. Stupid, chisel I can make a fat line or a thin line, best of both worlds, but apparently higher education is more specific in their instruction of new teachers these days. When I was in college we had to practice writing on CHALK BOARDS people. CHALK BOARDS. I have a strong aversion to chalk boards. Like I’m gonna puke if even one squeak comes from a piece of chalk and God FORBID someone scratch their nails on it. I’m gagging as we speak just thinking of it…
At this point I begin to notice I’m walking the aisle mumbling to myself, “Crayons, crayons, pointed tipped scissors, magic erasers. What the f*ck is a Magic Eraser? ” Over and over again. I think, “People are gonna start staring, so I’d better keep it together.” But then I realize all of these other parents are doing the same thing!
One guys walking down the aisle going, “Oh God, oh God…”, another is mumbling, “Stupid, stupid, stupid…”. I heard a mother say to her daughter, “You’d better make this fridge and microwave last you all four years.”
I ran into another mom looking for a specific brand of pencils. I directed her to the correct spot, then asked, “Do you know what a magic eraser is?”
“I’m actually a teacher and I have no idea what it is..” She looks at me with a mixture of hatred and pity and I scurry away.
The breaking point was the crayons. I was in need of a 24 pack, but could only get the 8 count jumbo size or the 128 mega pack and I figured I’d have one pretty pissed off third grader gunning for me if I brought either of these home. After angry Snapchats and rantings to my bestie, I stoop about as low as I could go on this “damned from the beginning” pilgrimage and nab a pack out of a pre-packed bag for patrons to purchase for underprivileged school students. A new low for sure.
As I made my way back to the phone store to pick her up, I was reviewing what purchases might not be actually kosher with the teacher figuring the orange folder might be a bit of a stretch, but surely it couldn’t make that much of a difference right? Wrong. I was promptly informed that last year the items that weren’t correct were sent home with a note stating they were not acceptable and new items must be purchased. In fact, she informed me that she fully expected to be back out re-buying all of these same supplies the week after school started because generally half of them weren’t correct.
I was outraged. I told her if the teacher made a peep she should let me know and I would be up at that school the next day having it out with her. She insisted it really wasn’t worth it and that buying all new supplies was in turn, much easier.
Today she posts this blog from People I Want to Punch in the Throat on my wall about school supplies and teachers. People I Want to Punch in the Throat found it came from Ginny over at Praying to Darwin and its PURE GENIUS.
For all you Mommies dealing with this shit right now, cheers!School Suppliesby XXXXXXXXXXXX on Monday, September 7, 20xx at 10:31am************************************************Dear Mrs. X:In just over a week, you will be my son’s Grade 1 teacher. He is ever so excited to be under your tutelage. Why, since the last day of kindergarten, entering your class was all he could talk about. He gleefully thrust a piece of paper into my hand on that June afternoon, and said, “Here’s a list of the stuff I need for school next September!”And I have to admit, I, too, was excited. I’m a school supplies geek from way back. And so, in early August, I set out to buy the items you’d listed. It was on my fourth store that the realization began to sink in.You’re a crafty bitch, aren’t you?This list was a thinly disguised test. Could I find the items, exactly as you’d prescribed? Because if not, my son would be That Kid, the one with the Problem Mother, Who Can’t Follow Directions.For example, the glue sticks you requested. In the 40 gram size. Three of the little buggers. (What kind of massive, sticky project you’ve got planned for the first day of school that would require the students to bring all this glue, I cannot imagine.) But the 40 gram size doesn’t come in a convenient 3-pack. The 30 gram size does. But clearly, those would be wildly inappropriate. So I got the individually priced 40’s, as per your instructions.Another bit of fun was your request for 2 packs of 8 Crayola crayons (basic colors). The 24 packs, with their 24 *different* colors, sat there, on sale. I could have purchased *three* of the 24 packs for the price I had to pay for the 8 packs. (Clearly, you’ll not be teaching the youngsters any sort of economics lessons this year.) Even the cashier looked at me, as if to say, “Pardon me, ma’am, but are you slow?” as I purchased these non-bargain crayons. But that’s what the list said. And I was committed to following the list.But the last item, well, now, you saved your malice up for that one, didn’t you? “8 mm ruled notebooks”, you asked for. Simple enough. Except the standard size is “seven” millimetres. One. Millimetre. Difference. Do you realize, Mrs. X., exactly how infinitesimal the difference between 7 mm ruling and 8 mm ruling is? Pretty small, I assure you. The thickness of a fingernail, approximately. But that millimetre, that small bit of nothingness, made me drive to four different stores, over the course of three sweaty August hours. And when I finally, finally found the last remaining 8 mm notebooks, I took no pleasure in my victory. I merely shifted my focus. To you, Mrs. X.You wanna dance, lady? Let’s dance.Because I am just batshit crazy enough to play your games. And, in turn, come up with some of my own.On show and share day, my son will be bringing the video of his birth. It will be labelled, “Ben’s First Puppy.” Enjoy.He will be given a list of words, and daily, he will ask you what they mean. Words such as “pedophile”, “anti-semite”, and “skank”. Good luck with those.At some point, you will attempt to teach him mathematics. And I’m quite sure that, like most of your ilk, you will require my son to “show his work”. And he will. Through interpretive dance.Because that is who you’ve chosen to tangle with, toots. A stay at home mom who is not entirely balanced, and has altogether too much time on her hands. But is, most certainly, A Mother Who Can Follow Directions.Sincerely,Ben’s Mom
Oh yeah, ladies, I’m with you all the way…