School Supplies

Today was meet the teacher and drop off all your school supplies for my daughter's school.  She's in her last year of preschool and her list included items like:  thin markers, thick markers and Pipsqueak markers.  Do you know how much Pipsqueak markers cost?  Ridiculous.  I was fuming this morning as I packed up her bag of supplies and noticed the list called for 4 glue sticks.  The 3 packs were on sale so her class got short changed a glue stick.  They can bill me - or bite me.  Their choice.

Tomorrow is my son's day and I can tell you right now, I still don't know the difference between a "plastic" pocket folder and a "poly" pocket folder.  I DO know my colors, so he did get a green one, a red one and a blue one.  I was able to cross that part off my list with confidence!  I also could not find the particular brand of pencils that was asked for.  He got the "skippies" of the pencil world:  whatever brand Wal Mart had on sale.

All in all, I'm pretty lucky with the school supplies thing though.  I can't imagine having to label EACH individual crayon with my child's name!  True story, a friend of mine was doing this the other night, per the teacher's request.  That's just sick and wrong.

When I sat down to bitch about school supplies, I found this on FB tonight.  No one seems to know who the original author is.  I can tell you, it wasn't me.  After reading this, I realized why bother?  She summed it up perfectly and said it better than I ever could:

UPDATE:  I got an email telling me who to give credit to for this glorious letter to the teacher.  It came from Ginny over at Praying to Darwin.

For all you Mommies dealing with this shit right now, cheers!

School Supplies
by XXXXXXXXXXXX on Monday, September 7, 2009 at 10:31am

Dear Mrs. X:

In just over a week, you will be my son’s Grade 1 teacher. He is ever so excited to be under your tutelage. Why, since the last day of kindergarten, entering your class was all he could talk about. He gleefully thrust a piece of paper into my hand on that June afternoon, and said, “Here’s a list of the stuff I need for school next September!”

And I have to admit, I, too, was excited. I’m a school supplies geek from way back. And so, in early August, I set out to buy the items you’d listed. It was on my fourth store that the realization began to sink in.

You’re a crafty bitch, aren’t you?

This list was a thinly disguised test. Could I find the items, exactly as you’d prescribed? Because if not, my son would be That Kid, the one with the Problem Mother, Who Can’t Follow Directions.

For example, the glue sticks you requested. In the 40 gram size. Three of the little buggers. (What kind of massive, sticky project you’ve got planned for the first day of school that would require the students to bring all this glue, I cannot imagine.) But the 40 gram size doesn't come in a convenient 3-pack. The 30 gram size does. But clearly, those would be wildly inappropriate. So I got the individually priced 40’s, as per your instructions.

Another bit of fun was your request for 2 packs of 8 Crayola crayons (basic colors). The 24 packs, with their 24 *different* colors, sat there, on sale. I could have purchased *three* of the 24 packs for the price I had to pay for the 8 packs. (Clearly, you’ll not be teaching the youngsters any sort of economics lessons this year.) Even the cashier looked at me, as if to say, “Pardon me, ma’am, but are you slow?” as I purchased these non-bargain crayons. But that’s what the list said. And I was committed to following the list.

But the last item, well, now, you saved your malice up for that one, didn’t you? “8 mm ruled notebooks”, you asked for. Simple enough. Except the standard size is "seven" millimetres. One. Millimetre. Difference. Do you realize, Mrs. X., exactly how infinitesimal the difference between 7 mm ruling and 8 mm ruling is? Pretty small, I assure you. The thickness of a fingernail, approximately. But that millimetre, that small bit of nothingness, made me drive to four different stores, over the course of three sweaty August hours. And when I finally, finally found the last remaining 8 mm notebooks, I took no pleasure in my victory. I merely shifted my focus. To you, Mrs. X.

You wanna dance, lady? Let’s dance.

Because I am just batshit crazy enough to play your games. And, in turn, come up with some of my own.

On show and share day, my son will be bringing the video of his birth. It will be labelled, “Ben’s First Puppy.” Enjoy.

He will be given a list of words, and daily, he will ask you what they mean. Words such as “pedophile”, “anti-semite”, and “skank”. Good luck with those.

At some point, you will attempt to teach him mathematics. And I’m quite sure that, like most of your ilk, you will require my son to “show his work”. And he will. Through interpretive dance.

Because that is who you’ve chosen to tangle with, toots. A stay at home mom who is not entirely balanced, and has altogether too much time on her hands. But is, most certainly, A Mother Who Can Follow Directions.


Ben’s Mom


Barbara said...

Love this!

dafellasmomma said...

I am so with you as I scramble to find the 12 #2 pencils to leave in my child's classroom tonight only to realize I left them at home. As you, what is the difference between a vinyl folder but non-poly folder. I went old school, bought the cheap folders then laminated them cut them out and the pockets. Can she give me my time back? All I'm saying is I AM WITH YOU!! PREACH!!

Jen Piwtpitt said...

My son's list specifically called for the NON PURPLE glue sticks. WTF?? The only glue sticks I could find were purple. What's so bad about the purple glue sticks?? I love the purple ones. She's getting purple tomorrow.

Jessie said...

Way to rebel against the glue stick demands...when we dropped our stuff off today, I realized I was the only one who followed directions. Next year I'll know better!

kcmama said...

OK Jen, I'm not a fan of the NAME of your blog (that would REALLY hurt!) but at the risk of being the subject of a future blog (
("people who read my blog but don't like the name", or "people who use parenthesis and quotes too much") I do read occasionally and to honor your request of posting a comment here I am. The supply list drives me nuts and yes I did label every marker, crayon, glue stick, etc w/ my kids names this year as well, big fat pain in the neck (throat, lol). Why do they ask for a spiral binder that has 80 sheets of paper when all that are sold are 70? Can't wait for the stacks of paper and "masterpieces" that are sure to come flowing home within a week for me to recycle all carefully created with the school supplies I purchased.

Lori said...

When my daughter was starting school, I was a huge follower of the school supply list. After about 2 years of that and also having one supply list given just for the 1st semester, then another after Christmas break, I started rethinking things. These were both full lists! One day as I was sitting in the school hall, waiting to pick up dear daughter, I noticed a "store" made from an extra room. I inquired about it. They took every school supply the kids brought to school and put in in the store. When they ran out of paper or needed a pencil, they had to BUY it from the store! After that, no more school supplies were bought from me. That was the line!

supermom said...

This came at the perfect time. I haven't laughed that hard for a long time. I could have written that because today I came home after going all around town to get a specific set of watercolor sets. Thanks for sharing.

Laura said...

I complain about the school supply list not matching what the stores sell every year. I say I'm going to contact the district, but I never do, I just complain. And I'm a label every crayon mom. It was required the past two years, not sure about this year. But honestly, if labeling each crayon makes sure he has 24 crayons to choose from by Sep. 30, I'll do it. I've seen some of those kids and how their crap gets everywhere, so they just grab whatever's closest even if it's not theirs. So, I'll just keep labeling for now.

Laura Burciaga said...

I taught 2nd grade at a lower income school and we were just happy if the kids brought ANY school supplies! Many did/could not. We teachers ended up spending lost of money out of our own pocket to have enough supplies. And as far as labeling the items (never crayons, there was not time for such ludicrous things), we also did that ourselves.

Lori said...

Try 15 glue sticks per child!!!! (I have two.) Do they eat them? And specific brands of baby wipes that are "school-system approved" for health concerns. I spent over $50 for both kids, NOT including their backpacks, and I chose to leave stuff off. Then, my kindergartner's teacher, who is brand new, greets us on the first day with another list asking for everything from 15 boxes of Kleenex to sets of Play Doh. Umm...hell, no!! I'm a teacher too, and I'm lucky if one high schooler brings a box of Kleenex. I buy my own art supplies, board markers, and even pens, paper and journals for my 10-12th graders because they aren't prepared. Not saying I agree teachers should do this, but SOME elementary teachers seem to need a little lesson in control.

Jenn said...

Hilarious...and oh so true. I am a good enough mom, I will buy whats on sale. Glue in a 30 gram stick will be just as sticky as glue in the 40 gram stick. End of story.

Anonymous said...

After reading this (and knowing of these struggles already), I'm even more grateful that my child's school offers an option at the end of the school year to buy their pre-packaged, school-approved supplies for the following year. It's around $30-$35, so I do consider it a deal. No hassles and worries about the's all included. And it'll be waiting in your child's classroom at orientation. =) Aside from opening that package and labeling, I consider it a breeze.

Still, I have a friend that forgoes the pre-packaged deal, and takes the list. She considers it a mission, a challenge, to take the list and shop for school supplies herself. And her goal is to not only find all the exact items, but beat that price. I wonder if she factors in time/convenience/gas...???

Just Me said...

My daughter's school posts lists online (since it saves them costs of paper/toner of copying to distribute them). Good since most kids will lose them between school and home anyway (even with those "communication folders" that kids are required to have). There are two problems with this, one chronic and one that I encountered in 2011 ...

Chronically: We live in rural Maine. It took MANY years for internet to make it across the Kittery 95 bridge, let alone to Bangor, then further into what could be considered the boondocks (or other choice derogatory words). Our family is fortunate that we live in enough proximity to get DSL service, our neighbor 200' down the road cannot. Their dialup service is just that ... dialup. We're nice (enough) so end up printing the list for neighbors.

2011: We printed and shared the list with the neighbors ... bought supplies, all set to go, right? Oh wait, they CHANGED the list and failed to notify anyone (an alert on their school webpage would have gone a LONG way). Not like I check their webpage habitually (I check your blog more often), but it would have been an effort at least. There weren't school webpages when I went to school. Hell, I primarily used computers that utilized 5 1/4" floppy boot disks.

Trillian said...

When my son entered first grade I too wondered why he needed so much glue, so many pencils and whatever. Now I now. It's because they lose an average of 1.5 pencils per week. Now I bulk buy all the stuff on ebay. He can use it in college in the unlikely case that there are some left over until then.

maarmie said...

I want to marry Ben's mom!

Saramather said...

This year my son started 1st grade (otherwise known as the first "real" year of school). You should have seen his list. 2 packs EACH of colored pencils, the "skinny" markers, and crayons, they had to be crayola not the cheap, Roseart brand. He needed 6 sticks of glue plus 3 bottles of glue. He also needed 2 t-shirts for art class, a clipboard, and a small white board- the markers and eraser to go with it. SERIOUSLY!?! I spent like $60 bucks and then when we got to school to put all of the supplies in the desk, she had everyone throw them in 1 bucket. So, all the kids get to use all the supplies, that would be great if I weren't the ONLY parent to buy ALL of the items. So, all the lazy parents or parents that cannot afford the items, their kids will get to use up all my son's supplies. Ugh.

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