After a summer that, at times, can seem as equally long as it does short, it is time for back to school. And with it comes the back to school shopping. Being from Wisconsin, I loved getting all the new jeans and sweaters and warmer weather clothes. Of course, here in Arizona, my kids will continue to wear their shorts until well into October. They will however, each get a new pair of closed toe shoes, bright white socks and new underwear. My eight year old will look at me in horror as I suggest the underwear with dogs as pirates or fire trucks. “Mom, I’m eight. Just the plain kind, please” he says with a scowl as he rolls his eyes. Great. I am already uncool.
As a kid, I loved picking out my Trapper Keeper and organizing all my school supplies before school started. My boys do not share in my excitement of back to school shopping and would prefer to stay at home to play with their Dad and leave the supply gathering to me.
It is a Saturday afternoon as I walk confused and tired through long isles stocked with colored folders, three ring binders, crayons, glue sticks and Sharpees. I try to decipher the specific needs of two different teachers, careful to buy exactly what they have requested. Once I am halfway down the first list, I decide that this chore would be more enjoyable with a caffeine treat. So I leave the crowded isle and push my cart towards the front of the store where an in-store Starbucks is located.
I welcome the sweet refreshing taste of the iced coffee and turn around to re-trace my steps. But I stop suddenly as I spot the strategically placed items on the end of the shelf with a red clearance sticker. The clearance items are mesmerizing.
Oh yeah, I could use a multi-pack of Kleenex. Margarita salt? Okay. Gum for $0.39? Who can’t use more gum? Before I know it, random items are collecting in my cart until something snaps me back to my senses. Wait a second, the Kleenex is only $0.40 less than regular price. That’s not a smoking deal. And what am I ever going to do with a blow-up limbo stick? My voice of reason prevails and I put back most of my clearance items. But this set back has wasted precious time and I need to finish school supply shopping.
The area seems more crowded and louder than before I left for a coffee break. Everywhere there are parents scanning lists, kids grabbing supplies off the shelves, and carts nearly puzzled together. It feels unfamiliar to be alone and each time a child yells, “Mom!” I quickly spin around. I need to focus. Get done and get home.
By the time that I head for the check out line, I have already received two calls from my husband asking about plans for dinner. "I don’t know. Delivery?" It’s been a long day and my head is pounding. When I see the total, I do a double take. Wow! That much for school supplies? My gratitude for teachers is strong and I am thankful that they are not responsible for all their class’s supplies. How could anyone ever afford that? As an impulse buy I add a few gift cards to my total so I can give them to the teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Now if only I can remember that I have them for when the time comes.
As I arrive home with my trunk full of bags and hot pizza for dinner, I am thankful to sit down and relax. Everyone is ready to start school. Each item on the list has been purchased. It feels like, for once, I am prepared. “Hey Mom, did you buy my recorder?” With that question, the proud smile from my face fades away. Oh great. The dreaded forgotten item. Hopefully, that is the only one.