Snarky in the Suburbs: To see the local wildlife up close, schedule yourself a school-supply safari

08/13/2014 8:38 AM

08/13/2014 8:38 AM

There are many different ways to approach shopping for school supplies.

Some families order their bounty from the PTO. It’s a way to cross yet another fundraiser off the list. Others wait until after the first day of school just to make sure the teacher hasn’t made any changes or additions to their must-haves. But, I think most parents, in eager anticipation of the start of school, hit the shopping aisles at least a week before the big day.

As I seasoned mother, I’m used to crowds associated with back to school shopping. But surprisingly I have never, ever ventured out during a tax-free weekend. Last Saturday, I was at Target pushing my cart to the office supply aisle to buy some computer paper when I was overwhelmed by a horde of school supply shoppers. I had to abandon cart, and by that I mean leave it in the men’s underwear section, grab my purse and my fresh-from-the-snack-bar Diet Coke and shimmy down two aisles just to get close to the computer paper.

Now, a somewhat sane person or an individual with superior time management skills would have taken one look at the hustle and bustle, promptly turned around and ventured off to less crowded environs. But none of the above describes me at all. Sure, I thought about leaving, but then I heard a mom threaten her two daughters with “ugly notebooks” if they didn’t behave. A parent using school supplies as a punishment — well, you just know I had to stay and see how this played out. I took a sip of my Diet Coke and settled in by the bin of wide-ruled paper.

Disappointingly, the mother demonstrated very 21st century parenting techniques and did not follow through on her ultimatum at all. Her girls continued to throw pencil cases at one another and they still got pretty spiral notebooks with flowers on them.

As I was standing there contemplating the general lack of follow-through in parenting (myself included), a grandma asked me if I knew where and what a dry erase marker was. Indeed I did and it was my pleasure to explain to her the wonders of the white board. I found out she was there buying school supplies for her three grandchildren while the family was on vacation. I told her she deserved a medal. The grandma laughed and confessed that if she had known how long the school supply lists were she might have changed her mind about helping out.

This got us talking about back in the day, and the grandma said when she was a kid she went to school with a notebook and a pencil. That got me thinking, and I’m pretty sure all I brought to school was lunch. Hmm, when did school supply lists start exceeding one page? Another question for you: What do kids do with all those Post It Notes and 3 X 5 index cards we have to buy? I’m certain in my parenting career I’ve bought enough Post It Notes and index cards to circle the greater Johnson County area. And what’s up with the graphing calculator that exceeds $100? Ouch on that one.

I might have continued my visit with the grandma, but two women were getting agitated over who was going to get the last pink composition notebook. My attention, as you can imagine, was immediately diverted. My money was on the bigger mom being the victor in the notebook grab and go. And this is why I don’t gamble: The smaller mother had some mighty long fingernails and, like a hawk grabbing a Yorki Poo from a Hallbrook backyard, the mini mom extended her talons, clutched the notebook and took off.

I figured that was my excitement for the day so I got my computer paper, found my cart and continued shopping on the other side of the store. While I was pursuing cleaning supplies, two youngish moms were having an in-depth conversation about the boxes of Kleenex that were bleach adjacent. Both moms had Kleenex on their kids school supply list and their dilemma was whether to go generic Kleenex and get the basic blow your nose variety in the non-decorator box or really show you care and buy expensive tissue.

I decided I should help them out and told them you can never go wrong with spending a little more on your school Kleenex purchase. Consider it preliminary sucking up. Oh, and most important — put your kid’s name in Sharpie on the Kleenex box. That way the teacher knows you spent the big bucks and went Ultra Soft with Lotion.

In fact, put your kid’s name on everything. Most especially the graphing calculator that cost more than my first car payment.

Freelancer Sherry Kuehl of Leawood writes Snarky in the Suburbs in 913 each week. You can follow her on Facebook at Snarky in the Suburbs, on Twitter at @snarkynsuburbs and read her blog at snarkyinthesuburbs.com. She’s also written a book, “Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School.”

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