It’s that time of year again.

Back to school, which means that annual trip to the store for school supplies that never fail to include the most random things. The list is a far cry from the rubber cement and number-two pencils we used to show up with on the first day of school.

I sometimes think the joke’s on us, that schools toy with parents by asking for items that either don’t exist or send us on wild goose hunts throughout the city. After all, when did school supply shopping require a visit to three separate stores?

And so was the case in our household, as I embarked on a shopping mission to prepare my son for 3rd grade, armed with list in hand. At first it seemed easy enough. Pencils? Check. Elmer’s washable glue? Check. Index cards? Check.

Then came the specifics.

A ruler? Check. A plastic ruler? Oh, better put the wooden one in my cart back. A plastic ruler? Check. A plastic ruler with holes in the center? Back to aisle 10. And the same goes for the dry-erase markers. Check. Dry-erase markers in black? Dry-erase markers in black with a chisel tip? Dry-erase makers in black with a chisel tip and 3 per package? My hair was turning gray with each item I crossed off the list, as it took me longer to buy school supplies than it does to make pottery. Tissues, anyone? Of course, our kids get the sniffles during school hours, but now they have to be unscented, hypo-allergenic, and 100 per box. Storage bags? Those rank up there with glue sticks these days, but they need to be quart-size, zipper-sealed, and 15 per box, requiring me to spend waaaaaaay too much time in the trash bag aisle.

I kept thinking I would receive some sort of prize once my final item was crossed off, kinda like a scavenger hunt for adults. I had to laugh as I exchanged glances with other moms and dads who looked just as puzzled, translation…frustrated, as I did, yet I was willing to knock them out of the way when they reached for the last one-subject wide-ruled, 70-count notebook, in the required blue and red.

Hey, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

All this, and I’m still not done. ‘The list’ asks that we send our bright-eyed student with a pencil box, with a lid, clear of course, but requires the oddest-shape that no one seems to carry. Probably doesn’t even exist, just a guess by the look of the Office Max guy that I begged, I mean, asked for help.

These are the things that drive me crazy.

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