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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Paper & Scissors Rock!

On the whole, I’d rather give my teenage son a Platinum MasterCard and send him to Wal-Mart on Saturday night than do the Back-to-School shopping myself. His gym locker is in better shape than the Three-Ring Binder section of Wal-Mart after the list-bearing hordes have swept through. Back-to-school shoppers invade discount stores in August like a swarm of fire ants in a field of sweetgrass, and they’re not leaving until they’ve crossed the last bottle of hand soap off their list and called in their relatives to find the pink lunchbox they hid behind the Pepto Bismol display back in June.

Anyone who thinks a mother in search of a pack of Crayolas and a bottle of Elmer’s isn’t dangerous has never had a kid in 4K. Here’s a woman who has visions of getting a toddler-sized tornado out of her kitchen and Dora the Explorer off of her television and there’s not a force of nature that can stop her from climbing over two Kleenex displays and a store manager to get that last glue stick. And as sure as a drink box shoots a stream of blue goo in your eye when you punch in the straw, she’s gonna have a kid that wants a Batman backpack after she bought Iron Man on clearance during the summer. Put 500 copies of this woman in the safety scissors section of a discount store and in less time than it takes for Junior to lose his lunchbox, they’re fighting over the last pack of construction paper like so many Edna Scissorhands. Desperate Housewives are Stepford Wives by comparison.

Don’t even get me started about book bags and blue jeans. You’d think that one pair of pants made out of faded blue denim would be pretty much be like the ones you found for ten bucks on the clearance rack at Target. Just because the hem hit mid-ankle and the waistband tucked neatly under his armpits, Teen Boy at my house went all white around the shoetops and refused to have his yearbook picture made.

Kids today need to understand that yesterday’s highwaters are today’s Capri pants. But that argument doesn’t even work with girls. It certainly didn’t mean much to a seventeen year old boy whose regular uniform consists of 50 pockets spread across a bolt of camouflage material and a faded T-Shirt that reads, “I’m Up and Dressed. What More Do You Want?” So why do those clothes cost more than it takes to gas up a Suburban? Abercrombie & Fitch must charge by the letter.

And when did a backpack become a designer accessory? Today’s bags have room for everything except books, which—according to my son who is a High School graduate, and therefore an expert in these, and all other, matters--are optional in the classroom these days. I can understand filmstrips going the way of ancient technology, but books? They take up valuable space needed for everything from MP3 players (I don’t even have MP 1 & 2) to cell phones, which are very important so you can call your friends between classes to see who did the science homework.

Which brings us to the main source of our school woes. Friends. It is a principle of life that a true friend will not buy the very last pair of torn blue jeans at the mall. Nor will a friend refuse to eat school lunch and choose to hang out at the drink machine after I’ve shelled out $300 in advance for the pizza line in the cafeteria. Last year I discovered that I was feeding three random boys and the school rabbit, while the only things my child ate off his plate was apple peel and barbecue chips.

This year I have resolve. I will not buy clothes just because people my child doesn’t even like wear them. I will not buy trading cards just because the people my child does like would rather duel than eat lunch. I will not volunteer to chaperone the school dance just so my child can go and eat free pizza.

But if I get free pizza, that’s another story. I’ll have to buy something cool to wear. Maybe some designer jeans.


colbymarshall said...

And mentioning backpacks, when did backpacks start having wheels? It angers me to see kids with wheeled backpacks- it's not a backpack if it's not on your back!

the Bag Lady said...

The Bag Lady has never had children, so has never had to be one of the hordes of maniacal moms at WalMart this time of year. Praise Heaven.
She has also learned to stock up in July so she doesn't have to GO shopping in August.
Now, if only she could manage her Xmas shopping in June, she'd be golden.

Unknown said...

I love back-to-school sales, especially about two weeks after everyone is actually back to school, when the magical clearance sales happen. I have no kids, but do I need two Scooby Doo lunchboxes, a new binder, and a pack of eco-friendly, biodegradable pens? Why, yes I do! Nothing like a little unhealthy writerly obsession with office supplies to keep you going. ;)