Without a doubt, “optional” back-to-school supplies are my most favorite back-to-school supplies on the list.
I’ve got to buy for three kids here. Three kids in the same grade. I’m a very generous person: I offer myself the triplet discount every chance I get. The only thing that makes me suck it up and buy at least a few of those things on the lower half of the list is that I don’t want the teachers to get stuck buying them. But as much as I can, when an item is marked: “Optional”, I choose the “No” option. And, I’ll tell you a little secret: Sometimes, I ignore the words “mandatory items” altogether thus making the entire list of back-to-school supplies “optional”. This is how it works:
“Optional” Back-to-School Supplies = Do the New Math
Like I said, I have three kids in the same grade. So when the item on the list says: “3 packs of 3 jumbo glue sticks” – In the old math that would be: 3 kids x 3 packs each= 9 packs x 3 jumbo glue sticks each = 27 jumbo glue sticks.
But in Lori’s new math it’s:
1 pack of 3 jumbo glue sticks ÷ 3 kids = One jumbo glue stick each. Each glue stick is delivered to each child with a loving message from mommy: “If you run out of glue, go next door to your sister.”
“Optional” Back-to-School Supplies = I Shop in Reverse
I used to be one of those suckers who would do the scavenger hunt: Look at the list and yell out to the family:
“Notebook Paper! Wide-Ruled! Anybody see it?”
Now I search the price shelves first. If I like what I see, then and only then do I look up to see what the item is.
“Oooh $1.29. Is ‘manual can opener’ on the list? I’m pretty sure at least one of you needs a manual can opener.”
My Appreciative Children Make it all Worthwhile
Mind you, while I’m sweating it out for an hour under the blinding fluorescent lights, going up and down the same three aisles with my dreaded “optional” back-to-school supplies list and my husband is painstakingly inspecting the backpacks the kids have picked to make sure all the zippers work and assess whether or not they’ll make it to at least winter break, (not to mention making sure the pockets are empty so we don’t get accused of shoplifting at the register), my poor children are… “soooo bored.” My daughters ask if while dad and I finish the supply shopping can they go to the Shopkins aisle while my son searches on the other side of the store for Wimpy Kid books. What? Who are we doing this for? My husband and I graduated high school in 1982… so, it’s not us. And then… I see a deal: Spiral notebooks for 17 cents each. My daughter, for the first time since we entered this tomb, takes a sudden interest in the shopping cart and stares as I load a stack of the spirals into it.
“Mommy, spiral notebooks aren’t on the list.”
I said: “They’re for me. I’m spending $200 on you people. Is it okay with you if I spend $1.70 on myself?” To which she responds, and I quote:
“Do you really need ten of them?” To which I respond, and I quote:
“Don’t worry. I’m a writer. I can write it off on my taxes.”
(And if you’d like more laughs at your child’s expense, please take a look at my latest little eBook: “Laughing IS Conceivable: From End of School to Back-to-School” by clicking on the book cover icon above or visiting my homepage: http://laughingisconceivable.com)- Thanks for stopping by!