Monday, August 27, 2012
dear teenagers, *this* is why your parents are so grumpy when you go back to school supply shopping.
1. we don't 'technically' budget for back to school supplies.
2. we don't think they should cost NEARLY as much as they do.
3. we are not in charge of the list.
the thing is, we know you're going to need school supplies. but high schoolers don't generally need their supplies until AFTER the school year begins. when each teacher gives their specific requirements. and by the time that happens it's like a month after we've started dealing with back to school. and the beginning of the shopping is all about the shoes and the clothes and oh you need a new back pack this year? your old one won't work? didn't i just buy you new underwear?
in some cases we've paid for transportation for the year or sports fees or both. then the summer packet with the fees laid out for the school comes and in some cases we've had to already pay for the yearbook, sometimes there's club fees, a PE uniform, a pre-paid dining card to load so you can eat at school.
THIRTY FIVE FREAKING DOLLARS FOR AN ASSOCIATED STUDENT BODY CARD? does it come with a massage and a free term paper?
whatever the fees, they are at least, more often than not, expected or hit early enough that they just get 'dealt' with. it doesn't mean it makes us grumble less, it's just a known quantity.
then the lull of the last days of summer set in. we start to relax. anticipate the start of school.
then the held breath, the exhalation, and the whirlwind of the first days of school hit.
and then it's like the 1st school day friday and we think we've made it through the first week unscathed and we're sitting on the couch and enjoying a (cheap because by now we feel tapped out) glass of wine, patting ourselves on the back for having made it through when BAM!
you remind us you have the requirements from your teachers.
oh? we ask. what kinds of things this year?
and you say, 1 inch binders, notebooks, dividers, etc. you answer, but are vague.
not a lot, you say.
oh? we ask. do you have a set list?
you do not.
well, we say. let's go this weekend.
we might discuss it again on saturday. mention about a list. you mention back that you know everything you need. we mention maybe you could give us an idea. you mention you know, binders. paper. the usual. we drop it. because we forget to remember. what it was like last year. we just forget in general.
so we get in the car and go on sunday. and of course target, where everyone else has already gone, is out of everything. except the crappiest bright white binders and justin bieber notebooks. and they're WIDE ruled.
so we go to the big box office supply store.
we are lucky if we only have to hit one. because more often than not they too are out of everything. and then the driving begins.
which brings us to #2 on the list.
NOTHING and i mean nothing is on sale at the big box office supply stores. nothing we need, anyway. and not only is nothing on sale, shit is EXPENSIVE! and i know we *just* did this last year so why am i so freakin' surprised?? you wonder. but i will tell you what, back to school supply shopping is a lot like childbirth. if you remembered the actual pain involved in doing it you wouldn't ever EVER do it again.
and we just don't think things should be as expensive as they are. we think about how little we needed in high school, a back pack and like a folder we're muttering to ourselves. we can't think of much more we needed. kids these days with their fancy school requirements, we mumble under our breath.
but loud enough for you to hear.
of course we are being completely irrational. and it's not your fault you have school supplies you need. but it makes us feel better. best just to let us be.
to our way of thinking, a binder should be like a dollar. maybe two dollars. you know, if it has that fancy plastic outer sleeve. a notebook should be no more than 50 cents. maybe a dollar. but binder paper should never be more than a dollar. can't you get pencils at school? since when did they stop offering pencils at school?
OH MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN THE PRICE OF A PACK OF DIVIDERS??? if i had any smarts at all i would have gone into the divider industry. that or disposable razors. those people are making a MINT.
ah, so now you see that pinchy look on our faces? yeah. look around. every single parent we pass has the same look. and do you notice how every parent/child combo seems to be having the SAME 'conversation' we are? have you ever seen a grumpier looking group of parents? we can't even make eye contact with each other, we parents. it's too raw and painful. it's like we're all being slowly tortured to death but nobody wants anyone else to share in their pain and we have no sympathy left to give others. we have no commiseration left in us. you have broken us. so no judgment from you, teenager.
and we haven't even made it to #3.
which brings us to #3.
we are not in charge of the 'list.' not only are we not in CHARGE of the list, there isn't even a LIST TO CONSULT. LET ALONE TO BE IN CHARGE OF. because the list is several items jotted down in several spots on several pieces of paper in your weird ass hurried handwriting. papers which you have gathered at the last minute and are 'consulting.' and by consulting i mean you have like 6 different spots you wrote 6 different class requirements down in and you're shuffling through them like you have no idea where they are or what they are because YOU DON'T. we are standing IN.THE.PLACE.and you have NO CLUE WHAT YOU NEED!
we know what we need. and i'm pretty sure they don't sell whiskey at staples.
this is a grave error on their part. they could make a killing. the 'speak-easy button bar' they could call it.
so there is no actual list and the person who knows what's even remotely supposed to be ON the list should one exist is you. and you are a teenager. with a now grumpy parent in tow. and you're not quick to answer our questions in the first place, let alone with any real DEFINITIVE and CLEAR intent, and add to that the fact our grumpiness and sheer need to now keep repeating the same question hoping to get some idea of what we are shopping for, how many we need, and some vague idea of how much this is going to cost us.
it's a school supply clusterfuck. it's a meltdown of college ruled proportions waiting to happen.
'so a binder. for every class? or just some? and what size?' we ask. trying to beat back the rising hysteria in our voice.
'mumble mumble don't know mumble 1 inch' you reply.
'what about these notebooks?' we grab a stack from the one and only box we see. only we've asked without looking at the size. and we will pay the price.
'those say WIDE RULED. you KNOW i can only use COLLEGE RULED.'
to your credit you don't add 'dumbass.' yay you. you get to live.
and that's *just* the paper goods. because wait, there's more! all the times you maybe even remotely discussed with us what might be getting purchased on this trip you never once mention the extras.
the lock for the PE locker, the specific requirements for your 'sportfolio.' oh? what's a sportfolio one might ask? well, that's a good question. yes well, it's an entire binder set up with a bunch of extras for YOUR P.E CLASS. wtf? not to mention the protractor and extras for math and the graphing notebook not just loose graphing paper and don't EVEN get me started on the graphing calculator. oh my god we did that last year and i STILL can't really even talk about it.
so with the driving and the finding it's going on hour two and we are pushing the cart wondering how in the hell we got blind sided AGAIN by something we knew was coming, can't believe how goddamned expensive everything is and really want to start every single sentence with 'well back in my day...' and have NO earthly idea of what we need to buy you, how much we need to buy you, how much it's going to cost us, and we only have YOU to rely on for any kind of actual information.
and by now you have picked up on our irritation, you can't believe how old we sound when we're complaining about the prices because 5.49 doesn't seem AT ALL an unreasonable a price for a binder, hey what's that shiny thing!!! you think and you wonder if you need it because it's so shiny and so you ask us if you should get it because you don't know what it is but you're pretty sure you need it it's SO SHINY and you can't figure out why you get such a snippy answer from us to a such a simple question from you and why would we flip out on you just because you asked to go to urban outfitters 'just to look around' and maybe go out to get something to eat afterwords?
and THIS, teenagers, this is why your parents are so grumpy when you go back to school supply shopping.