Tuesday, July 29, 2014

SCHOOL SUPPLIES -- A SCHOOL DAY REFLECTION

I am blessed beyond belief that I work for a district that has a Family Resource Center -- such a center gathers donations with which to purchase school supplies for those kiddos in need.  I am further ridiculously blessed with a generous SBDM Council that approves a crap load of cash for teachers to spend on academic needs.  I still spend a load out of my own pocket, but the abundance does not get overlooked by this girl.  I came from a district back in Michigan that didn't allow me to ask for school supplies, and I had to get every thing I wanted the kids to use on $175.  I think now they get $100.  

So, I wandered into Walmart this evening, and smack dab in the middle of school supply HELL, to spend some of the monies allotted me.  The number of stressed-out parents was staggering, and all of them had the same thing to say, "They want THIS brand and NOT that brand?!?  Do they know how much I'm going to spend on this [insert expletive here]?  And I have three kids!?!"

I typically get offended by such comments, because I am part of the group they are angry at. But this time, I stepped out of my teacher shoes and really listened. 

Dude!  Some of these teachers are ridiculous in their requests.  Only Crayola crayons?  Why?  Only Ticonderoga pencils?  

Listen.  I get it.  There are certain things that paying the extra money for quality, pays off in the end.  However, I'm thrilled when my kiddos bring in supplies.  Period.  I don't much care for what pencils they bring in as long as they have one or two.

I am relatively chill about the types of crayons and glue sticks and sticky notes every one brings in.  

I think it's because I was one of the kids that didn't have much at the start of school.  We were poor.  Not dirt poor, but I'm thinking probably grass poor.  We had just enough for a new school outfit or two, the necessary school shoes (God bless my parents if one of us had a growth spurt midyear and grew out of those shoes), and some school supplies.   

Now, my mother is the QUEEN OF CHEAP, the DUCHESS OF NECESSITY, and the GRAND DAME OF IMPROVISATION.  Procurement of school supplies was always interesting.  We already had crayons at home. Every other year or so, I remember getting a brand new box of crayons.  However, in the lean years, I was made to pick out the necessary colors from my Tupperware box of crayons and stick them in a baggie to take to school.  One particular year, I threw a grand mal hissy over the fact that all the kids would have brand new crayons fresh out of the box, complete with that wonderful sharpened crayon tip.  Oooooh, there's nothing better in this world than coloring with a brand new, freshly sharpened crayon.  My mother, being the DUCHESS OF NECESSITY and the GRAND DAME OF IMPROVISATION dug in the junk drawer and came up with a handheld pencil sharpener, proclaiming that now I had a special crayon sharpener.  I didn't buy it, but she was not buying the new crayons.  So, we were at an impasse.  I believe the conversation went something like this: "If you want sharpened crayons, you'll use this special crayon sharpener. Otherwise, you're coloring with dull crayons."  I took the sharpener.

Pencils were never a problem either.  Both my sister and I headed to school with a tote full of brand new pencils ... every single one of them advertising an insurance company that my parents sold at their insurance agency.  I never knew if I had number 2 pencils or not, but DOWAGIAC INSURANCE and WOLVERINE MUTUAL were always prominently displayed on them. 

No need to worry about erasers either.  There was always a motorcycle-shaped eraser or two sent with the baggies of crayons and insurance pencils.  

I remember when Trapper Keepers were all the rage.  I wanted that Puppy Dog one so badly I could taste it.  I bugged my mother to the point that she said if she bought it, I'd have to use it for multiple years.  I agreed, not realizing those dang-blasted Trapper Keepers were made for fashion and not for function.  No problem.  Dad just duct-taped that sucker up and was good to go for another few years.

Mom would look for clearance sales on notebook paper, folders, and spiral notebooks.  Those were stored in the antique chest in our family room.  Every year, she'd divvy those puppies out and send us on our way.  

So, you see.  I'm not so much concerned that they have a certain brand of anything.  I never did, and I sorta feel like I turned out okay ...  

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