Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to School!

When did it become so complicated to go back to school?

I’m not talking about medical school, college, or even boarding school. I’m talking about fourth and ninth grades, the grades being entered by my children. It should be easy; we’ve done it before. But all things in life have become much more complicated, and going back to school is one of those things.

When you take into account the laundry list of school supplies that must be procured before the little cherubs head back to school, you may be tempted to keep them home and school them yourself with just a little blackboard and an abacus to help educated them. (Just tempted--I haven't completely lost my mind.) Back in the day, I was given a leather messenger satchel—the likes of which I would kill for right now—with the insignia of St. Catherine’s school on the front, a new box of crayons, a few pencils and I was sent on my way. (Oh, let’s not forget the frozen bologna sandwich and equally-frozen Devil Dog that resided in my paper lunch bag. THAT combo is definitely a blog for another time.) Today’s children—namely, child #2 in the birth order—are sent home with a list of items that includes pencils, markers, highlighters, dry erase markers, pens, calculators, dictionaries, index cards, notebooks by the dozens (spiral AND marble-covered), and loose-leaf paper. AND NO TRAPPER KEEPERS!

Did you hear me? I said NO TRAPPER KEEPERS.

I didn’t even know Trapper Keepers still existed and I am still wondering why the ban. Seems like for your garden-variety disorganized fourth-grade boy this would be the ticket to order and calm. But they’re on the banned list, along with a host of other items that in my day, were considered de rigueur for school. (I think frozen bologna may be on the list, but I'm not 100% sure. Frozen Devil Dogs definitely are; if thrown, they could blind another child.)

I went to a large store yesterday whose logo is a bulls-eye and did hand-to-hand combat with the other harried mothers in the “Back to School” aisles. One mother was talking so loudly to her children (you know the type—she talks loud, trying to either a) show how good a mother she is by buying little Freddie and Flossie everything they want or b) how she is more frazzled than everyone else or c) enlist you in her running monologue on her life) that it occurred to me to scream “Stop talking! I can’t think! I can’t find low-odor dry erase markers with your constant chatter! Can’t you see that?” But I’m way too civilized for that, so instead, I walked through the giant circular area with its giant cardboard storage containers of supplies muttering to myself like a crazy person. Which I suppose I am.

Child #1, who is going into high school, needs fewer supplies. However, she plays field hockey, and Monday was the first practice. She left in the morning after procuring two used mouth guards from her brother for both herself and her best friend, A. (who couldn’t find a previously-used one in her own brother’s room), boiled them to get his cooties off and headed over to practice. She wasn’t gone ten minutes when I received a phone call.

D.: Hi, Mom? I need that medical form and permission slip or else I can’t play.

Me: (Disgusted and exasperated having just gotten to work in her home office) What? What permission slip? Where is it?

D.: In my room.

After doing a complete search of her room and not turning up the form, I called her back.

Me: Not there.

D.: OK. You have to go to the high school, get a new one, fill it out, and bring it to me at the field. Otherwise, I WON’T BE ABLE TO PLAY!

Me: (More disgusted and exasperated than earlier) I’ll be there in ten minutes.

I left my office, went to the high school, tracked down the form and with another exasperated father, began to fill it out on a narrow slice of counter. When I got to the signature part, it all started to look very familiar.

Me: Hey! I already filled this out!

Dad #1: (perusing form more carefully) Me, too!

Me: And I already handed it in!

Dad #1: Me, too!

Me: Then why are we filling it out again?!

Dad #1: Because they said we had to!

I drove over to the field in a fit of pique and confronted 1) several Moms in mini-vans throwing the form out the window at their own daughter, 2) a few dejected field hockey players whose Mom’s hadn’t arrived yet, and 3) two girls who were vacating the field completely because their mothers weren’t home to re-fill out the forms and bring them over to them. To her credit, as I flung the form out the window, my daughter called after me, “I love you!” which unless you’re cruel and cold-hearted, will assuage any feelings of ill will.

We’re almost there, though. I am missing three marble notebooks and one package of multi-colored index cards and then they’ll both be set to go. This morning, I gave child #1 a blank check—which I’ve decided is really my name…hello, my name is Blank. Blank Check—to purchase $93.00 worth of “practice” field hockey gear, which in my day, were called “tee-shirts” and “shorts”.

They couldn’t possibly hit me up for anything else before they go back, could they?

Maggie Barbieri

1 comment:

  1. What is a trapper keeper?

    Last time I got anyone ready for school was a grandson who lived with me from the time he was 11 to 21. All he cared about was cool clothes.

    Granddaughter who lives next door asked if I'd buy her an outfit for college. I did, that was getting off easy, I know.