Buying what's on the list

Published 1:46 am Monday, July 28, 2008

By Staff
I know I'm not alone. I can't be the only 40-something adult who actually enjoys shopping for school supplies.
Just this past week, I got the list of supplies my fourth-grade son is going to need for the upcoming year. I was excited about the chance to walk down the aisle filled with paper, pencils, crayons, and markers and on and on and on. Him, not so much. As a matter of fact, I searched for and purchased the supplies without husband or child in tow.
The fact that I was in the school supply aisles without my family was absolute heaven. I was able to look at and touch all of the items I wanted without fear of hearing the dreaded “but I need it, Mom,” statement.
I remember making those statements myself as a child. I can recall trying to explain to my mother that I really, really needed that spiral notebook with all the little pink and purple hearts and stars on it. I didn't get those kind when I was little because the plain ones were always cheaper. And besides, the teacher didn't specifically ask for spiral notebooks with little pink and purple hearts and stars on them, so that was that - I didn't get them.
As an adult, I've learned to take the same tact with my child. But, as you probably know and have been guilty of yourself, I have given in and purchased the Spiderman pencil box.
As I pushed my cart further down the aisle, I found a vast array of folders and binders. Some were very plain in their design while others carried images of cartoon characters and wild geometric designs. Checking the list, I realized no teacher had asked for folders of any kind this year. I passed the folders by.
I found the No. 2 yellow pencils that were on the list. The list suggested a purchase of 12 pencils. Isn't it funny that I could only find packages of 10 or 24? I think maybe somebody at the pencil-packaging place got an idea that teachers were asking for 12 pencils and packaged them otherwise just to throw us off. I purchased two 10-count packages.
On to the spiral notebooks or composition books as we called them in my day. No such luck that I would be able to buy the variety that was so inexpensive. Since my son is moving on up in grade level, we were asked to supply the three-subject notebooks. Yep, you can bet they were more than five cents each. Funny though, the three-subject notebooks have 120 sheets of paper in them at around $2 for each book. The single-subject notebooks have 70 sheets of paper and were only a nickel last week. I can't imagine that an extra 50 sheets of paper is worth that much more. I'm thinking those notebook-binding folks had talked with the pencil-packaging people and have worked something out with each other. They are trading secrets and it's not coming out in my favor.
For some reason, my stroll down the school supply aisle brought back so many memories I couldn't keep from opening a couple of boxes.
I opened a fresh, brightly colored box of Crayola crayons just to take in their aroma. (Although there are cheaper brands of crayons on the market, they don't smell the same.) I found myself running a finger across the chiseled points of the crayons imagining the wonderful things I could draw if I only had paper. By the way, I'm no artist - just ask my third grade teacher.
My memories got the best of me and I gently slipped out a blue crayon and held it under my nose for an up-close sniff. To my embarrassment, a lady I didn't know looked at me kind of strangely as I held the crayon under my nose.
I smiled politely, blushed profusely and put the crayons in my cart even though they weren't on the list.
Lisa Tindell is the news editor for The Brewton Standard. She may be reached by email at

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