the early bird catches…. an empty wallet?

back-to-school shopping
all we need is wheelbarrow
and lottery win

Y’all. Holy shit. We just got back from buying the wee one’s school supplies for Kindergarten. School starts 8/27 so we’re a little early, but I ordinarily love school supply shopping and we were itching to get all the stuff.

I seriously think we just bought supplies for half the class. Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s the list, straight from the school’s website:


(all supplies preferably NOT
Roseart brand)
1 – plastic supply box
1 – clipboard (letter size)
3 – composition books (No spirals)
2 – packages #2 pencils (sharpened)
4 – boxes 16 count crayons (basic colors only-NO Roseart)
4 – 8 oz. bottles Elmer’s white school glue (NOT COLORED)
1 – backpack (large enough to hold a 1" binder)
1 – box 200 count tissue
1 – pkg. pink erasers (no pencil toppers)
1 – pair child Fisker
brand scissors (no plastic scissors)
2 – boxes Crayola basic color markers
1 – package 6 count dry erase EXPO markers (medium point)
3 – containers of liquid soap
2 – packages seasonal/fun
2 – red pocket folders (no brads)
1 – Kindergarten rest mat and towel
1 – yellow highlighter

Girls only:

1 –
package plain paper plates
1 – box Ziploc
plastic bags (gallon or jumbo size)

1 – box Ziploc bags (quart or
snack size)
1 – package plain paper lunch bags
(white, if possible)
1 – box wipes

That is a LOT of stuff. Especially when you’re at Target and you grab a different school’s list to see what those kids need, and those kids have 1/4 of the stuff to bring. Not only that, but this list seems designed to inflict irritation.

Clipboard? That’s going to take a special trip to an office supply store, because Target doesn’t have them.

A set of 6 dry erase markers? There are only sets of 4. Or 10. Or 12.

16 count crayons? $2.49. 24 count crayons? .20.

8oz glue? $1.57. 4oz glue? .15.

1 box of 200ct Kleenexes? I could only find boxes of 120ct or 180ct.

JEEZ. It was very vexing trying to buy these supplies, because nothing matched the list. And the things that did match the list were a lot more expensive than the things that were close, but not exactly right. Sigh.

So I’m going to be that mom. The one who supplies her kid with the right amount of stuff, but in various and sundry quantities.

I understand that teachers have specific reasons they ask for the supplies they do. And probably much of those reasons hinge on knowing that the school can’t afford to provide a lot of the things we take for granted – like crayons. I know a lot of times teachers end up spending a lot of their own money on things they shouldn’t have to. And that’s probably why we’re being asked to provide so. much. stuff.

And yet, I wish the things on the list weren’t such a pain in the ass. White lunch bags? The hell? I know they make better puppets, but no one sells them. Or if they do, they’re like 1,000 times more expensive.

Ah well. I grouse and complain and admit to being a little prickly about my kid having to bring four times more shit to school than most of the other kids in the district, but it was still fun to go get everything. I still remember the fat Snoopy pencils I had rattling around in my backpack on my very first day of school. And so we’ll pile all of this crap into a wheelbarrow for the first day and the wee one will show up grinning and scared and excited in shiny new clothes, with a sparkling new backpack, emanating that smell of newly sharpened pencils.

I can’t believe he’s starting school in just less than a month.

That should give me just enough time to track down the ever elusive clipboard.

9 thoughts on “the early bird catches…. an empty wallet?

  1. ADS is having an option that you can just pay $75 for the school supplies this year (which are all put into a community pot there– nothing gets labeled, everything is shared). We’re signing up. No shopping. No hassle. I know how to write a check!


  2. Your list is longer than our list, but ours also had the very specific requests. We don’t have to bring the handsoap, but we do have to bring a disposable camera.
    And I think our supplies go into a community supply closet, so everyone uses all the supplies. That’s why our list said, “PLAIN pocket folders – no characters.” etc. I like that all the kids will have the same plain red pocket folder. Not some kids with “Transformers,” some with “Bratz,” etc. I think it will help keep them on all one level, at least for a little while longer.
    I love buying school supplies, but if our school offers that option to write a check, I’ll do it. WAY easier!
    Oh, and Kari, for next year, if you find some stuff on your list that’s not at Target, consider shopping online at Office Depot or Office Max (I use them for ordering supplies for work; and I found a lot of my son’s school supplies there), and for orders over $50, you get free next day shipping. And you definitely spent more than $50 at Target, right?


  3. I like the idea of the community supplies, too. It’s a great equalizer. Like uniforms for school supplies. heh.
    I defintely spent more than $50 so I’ll have to check out just getting it all online. I didn’t really think about that, but it’s a great idea. I also like the idea of just writing a check – though I have to admit it’s great fun for me to go sifting through everything at the store.


  4. Ok, I am a geek, and I do admit that I used to adore shopping for school supplies– but not with kids in tow. Much less fun that way!
    $75 is supplies seems like a lot to me (though it is about what we’ve spent in the past two years of shopping), but I also recognize that not every kid will be able to bring school supplies, so they have parents overbuy. That way there ends up being enough to go around in the community pot. Even then, there are usually pleas for paper and such around April when something unexpectedly runs out.
    There are also other great sites that end up being cheaper than Office Depot if you Google “Discount School Supplies” though you won’t get next day delivery.


  5. I think the teachers use the same lists every year and don’t go and check what the store actually has. I always cheaped out and bought the 24 crayons instead of the 16 because they were so cheap and who would argue with 8 extra crayons.
    Our PTA has a fundraiser where you pre-order your supplies and they are delivered to the classroom the first day of school. I think it works out the same money wise but I like to shop for supplies.


  6. As an elementary school teacher (and a mom whose oldest will be in K next year) that list seems a bit absurd. And why the different items for boys and girls?


  7. Re: different lists for boy/girl–half the class will bring one thing and half another since the genders are somewhat balanced, usually. Some divide by last name: A-J: bring X, K-Z: bring Y.
    And I’d just get the cheaper stuff in a more than enough quantity- like 8-4oz. bottles of glue. I guess I’m “that mom,” too. That is a long list, though.
    I’m against the sharing, though. Have you ever seen what some kids (not mine, though…mine are perfect… 😉 do with pencils and crayons, etc. Chew, pick nose, etc. ad nauseum. Blech.
    p.s. what’s a “package” of pencils (or anything else)? 5? 10? 12? just give me a number, teach. Oh, and “presharpened?” I almost killed an electric sharpener trying to sharpen them all. It’s hell to do them all by hand and don’t schools have pencil sharpeners, btw?
    p.p.s. (sorry–you hit one of my buttons with this post–others’ too, apparently–lots of comments) You should edit this and anonymously send it to school–or just mention, casually to the teacher about the sizes of things available, your “confusion,” and that you did the best you could.
    I know. I have some issues.


  8. My next-door neighbor (in TN) is going through the same problem with her enormous school supply list. Finally, she ended up buying all of the larger sizes whenever possible because she figured that it will only help to have extra supplies. It’s so sad that this is a problem, even in the best school districts. Take solace in the fact that there will be at least one kid in his class that will have great, new stuff that he wouldn’t have normally had were it not for your generosity.
    I’m trying to remember back centuries ago if I even had a list for school supplies. I don’t think that we did unless there was a special need, like for a protractor. Other than that, I think everything was fair game.


  9. And to add to my neighbor’s stress, this last weekend was a tax-free weekend in TN for school supplies, clothes, and computer equipment. She went to Target yesterday after church and said that it was totally picked over. She is convinced that her son will be completely ostracized on his first day of Kindergarten because he doesn’t have exactly the right stuff. Thankfully, Brandon doesn’t seem to care because he has a shiny new Spiderman backpack. He could really care less about white (not colored) glue sticks or sharpened pencils.


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