Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A brave attempt at minimalistic school shopping

Back to School shopping annoys the crap out of me. It's almost as bad as Christmas when it comes to buying a whole lot of unnecessary *things* because supposedly you have to in order to prove you love somebody. That's probably another post for another time. Forget I said that until December. That will be a fun rant.

Anyway. This year, Johanna's supply list contained 20 items (and I am not joking about that, ask my mother, she saw it). It was ridiculous. And very detailed, listing exactly what size and shape and brand you're supposed to be getting, making it hard to use things from one year to the next, even though you always end up with supplies sent home at the end of the year. What is the point of this?

I have a few character flaws, and one of them is that I don't like being told what to do. So before I tackled Johanna's list, we went through last year's supplies first. And we were able to cross off several items: A box of name brand crayons, colored pencils, and both thin and thick markers; scissors; two pink pearl erasers (she used exactly a quarter of one last year); her pencil box; glue sticks; a pencil sharpener. I explained why I wanted to reuse as many items as possible, stressing the environmental impact more than my minimalist tendencies, but I really didn't have to because she was already on board. One thing about Johanna: She just accepts what is going on around her and gets on with things.

I still had to buy two binders of certain sizes, notebook paper, notebooks, pencils and two folders, though. Plus two containers of disinfectant wipes, two boxes of tissues, dry erase markers and a box of quart sized Ziplock bags. I had to hit a few stores to find everything on that list, but we finally managed. And I only threw a couple of fits.

Abby's list was easier, mostly because she wanted to wait until she went to her classes to see what she really needed, but also because she was willing to reuse everything that was still in working order from previous years. Which I didn't find out about until later because she made her own list to work from before we hit the stores. I really am digging this 14-year-old stage, FYI.

I got the girls Bento-style boxes for their lunches last year (they refuse to eat school lunches, and I am more than okay with that), and Johanna got a new messenger bag halfway through the year due to technical difficulties with her backpack (i.e. she is not a careful child. And she wanted to look like Indiana Jones), so at least I didn't have that to worry about. I knew I wasn't going to be able to go 100% reused, but I was happy that I was at least able to do SOMETHING. If I let myself get bogged down in the mire, I'd be too depressed to even try at all.

Anyway. First day of school. My mother made the girls' favorite dinner--lasagna--and brought it to the house for a party. We're talking about other things when suddenly Johanna pipes up with, I need six inch blades. And I'm like, um, are you planning to cut somebody?, and she's like, no, scissors.

So apparently the teacher goes through the supplies you send with your child to make sure they're worthy. And the scissors that Johanna used all through second grade did not make the cut (see what I did there?). "I told her, 'My mom's a minimalist,'" said Johanna, very seriously, "and she said, 'You need six inch blades.'"

Do you know how hard it is to find six inch blades? I didn't until I started trying. Add to that a brand name and it's actually impossible. I put the old scissors back in her bag, explaining that I was doing my best, but it might take me a while to find a pair and to tell her teacher I was trying. Five stores and three days later, I finally found six inch scissors at the local stationary store. NOT name brand. I bought them anyway. Sometimes you can only rebel in small ways.

The only other fit I threw was when Abby came home and announced that even though she had a binder clearly written on her supply list for science, her teacher said no binders, just notebooks. And I was like, so why did he put a binder on the supply list again? and was gearing up for a big ol' rant when Abby says, relax, that was one of the items I was reusing anyway, and I was all, oh. Okay then.

So school shopping was kind of depressing, I guess is the moral here, but we did have a few small victories, which I hope counts for something.

The end.

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