On Back to School
Well, if you follow my brain droppings on Twitter you would know that I suffered from a rather monumental case of writers block this week. I was able to vanquish this affliction back to the dusty corners of my brain…so let’s give this a shot. Irregardless, now cometh the latest and greatest edition of the Diatribe.
Now, the title of this Diatribe does not refer to this happier part of Back to School:
Ok, ok so perhaps the Muffin and I won’t be in the front yard sipping mimosas, and high fiving in our jammies, while we watch the Boy and the Boo Bear trundle off to their first days of school (mostly because I have to work). I’m kidding! I legitimately love spending time with them and will actually miss them all day until they get home.
No this diatribe is about the more nefarious side of Back to School season…shopping.
So there I was, staring at THE list. You parents out there know exactly what list I’m referring to during this time of year. I’m talking about that ridiculously long tome they refer to as a school supply list. If it is not items I can see no actual use for that I’m putting in the wobbly wheeled basket it is an absurd quantity of more logical items they are demanding of me. Seriously, if his nose is so runny that he requires 10,000 tissues then he has a dang medical issue that may require hospitalization! Perhaps I’ve exaggerated slightly here but you get the idea. I leave it with this: after all of the litany of sanitizing products I had to buy; he had better not get sick or Clorox has some explaining to do to me. I won’t even start on the gross of Dry-Erase markers I was ordered to purchase.
I finally read the bottom of the list: “Your child will be sharing these items with everyone in the class so please do not put their name on anything.” Insert sound of the needle scratching across a record here. What?! That’s right, I am supposed to buy supplies for everyone. Somehow I managed to discard the first few thoughts that came to mind and just forced a smile out. I was able to keep most of my snide comments (except the one about him apparently joining a hippy commune) to myself and stuck to the list.
While the dollars, I mean supplies, piled up in the cart to near bursting I began noticing something interesting. Like most nine-year-olds, the Boy gets all atwitter when we buy things for him. The more expensive the purchase, the giddier he gets. But this time? Well he had a look on his face like he was being forced to pick out his own rope from the hardware store before being led to the gallows. I smiled.
Just as I had worked out a financial plan to keep from needing to hand over the deed to the Mini Ponderosa; we went to the clothing section. I looked at the first price tag and a slightly less appropriate version of “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME” escaped my lips. I didn’t feel bad for that little outburst because it drew some snickers from the other nearby shell-shocked patrons. Now I’m not one to name drop when speaking poorly of an establishment but the people that own this store (I’ll give you a hint: it starts with “T” and ends with “arget”) are just malevolent and carnivorous. Yup, carnivorous.
Despite continuous protest from the lad, we managed to find a full complement of jeans, Pokémon shirts, and undies for him. I dutifully placed the gold lined garments in the cart. I say they are gold lined because that is the only plausible explanation I could come up with to justify the price I was about to pay for jeans that he will outgrow soon (possibly even before school starts in two weeks). A single tear escaped my eye each time another article of gold wove clothing on a cheap plastic hanger was added to our burgeoning cart.
Finally, it was my turn to have the look of being led to the gallows as I made my way to the checkout line. Did the boy just give me the same evil smile I had earlier given him?! Each beep of the financial extraction device, or cash register as I used to call it, caused my dread too crescendo. I’m not going to lie…when Phyllis announced the total I stopped breathing for a moment. I could see the look of pity in the eyes of the family behind us and I could see that they were bracing for their turn. I bravely nodded at them in a show of support and solidarity. Trembling, I pulled my card from the wallet, shook off the mothballs, and proffered my tithe to the retail overlord. How that much money can fit in so few bags will always amaze me. We quietly shuffled out to the car, trying to ignore the cries of financial agony issuing forth from my right rear pocket. Quickly, we loaded our meager purchases and fled from the soulless retail giant with the last few shreds of dignity still intact.
Perhaps this was a slightly overly dramatic rendition of what happened today but I tend to do that when it comes to me cracking the hermetic seal on my wallet. Please don’t take this as me ranting against Target. It’s not their fault they are soulless corporate succubae. It’s not like it would be different if we had gone across the street to the other place.
America, I’ll miss the wee Dooley’s when they go to their respective halls of education. It scares the heck out of me to let them out from under our protective wings five days a week. I can only hope we’ve done our jobs as parents well enough to give them the tools they need to be successful and safe.
I’m already looking forward to them being out for the summer when our big adventures can begin again. But Phyllis? I don’t look forward to seeing her smiling face and red vest in 12 short months when we get our next lists.
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