It’s that time of year, up here in my corner of the world there is an ever so slight shift in the air. Suddenly the heat of July and early August feels a tad cooler and the nights are cool enough that in the middle of the night you find yourself reaching for a blanket. This shift in air also serves as reminder that for kids that go to school, it’s time to enjoy these last days of unscheduled relaxation and get ready to return to school.
The impending return to school serves as reminder to many of us that we need to prepare our progeny for school, generally that includes new or new to you clothing and school supplies. Back in the dark ages when I was a wee lass in the 1970’s and 80’s that meant getting a list that mentioned pencils, markers, pens, etc. in quantities sufficient for one kid. Yet in recent years many parents including yours truly have marveled at why the school supply list has grown to at what times feels like unreasonable proportions. Today’s school supply list for many kids includes tissue paper, Clorox wipes, paper towels, 50 pencils and other items that make a parent shake their head
Many a social media savvy parent including myself has found themselves tweeting or facebooking about what seems to be some rather strange requests; others have taken to getting downright hostile about being asked to buy items in such bulk. Yet if we sit back and take a mental visit back to our own childhood, there almost always was at least one kid in our class who never had any supplies. You remember that kid? Hell, maybe you were that kid! You know the one…when the teacher said to take out an item, while everyone else did as the teacher instructed that kid looked away knowing they didn’t have the item. Though back in the good ole days, the teacher may have publicly chided little Joey for not having the item and of course other kids would snicker about why didn’t little Joey have pens? I can assure you Joey wished for two things, that either the floor would open up and swallow him or that a school supply fairy would bring him supplies. Sure Joey told his parents he needed supplies, but most likely his parents didn’t have the money. Growing up there were a few times I was that kid, Dad’s payday was delayed for whatever reason and since my folks lived hand to mouth, needed items were rarely purchased in advance.
Understanding what it is like not to have as a kid, has meant for the past three years as stressful as it is to organize a school supply drive via my organization, it is something I feel passionately about. I think every kid should have the tools they need to learn. Yet this year despite starting the process of securing supplies for kids back in late winter, with over 500 kids receiving supplies, my phone rang off the hook today with families in need. But at this late date there is only a fifty fifty chance that some of these kids will get the supplies they need.
Which is why when teachers send home a list that clearly asks for more pencils and erasers than your snowflake could possible ever use, I say if you have the means do send in the items. See, your kids teachers’ knows in any given class that at least twenty five percent of folks will not send in the extra supplies, hell they won’t send in any supplies and often it’s because they can’t afford to. Sure there are programs such as mine that assist in making sure kids have supplies but frankly don’t we all have a vested interest in making sure every kid not just ours is ready and prepared to learn? So kvetch all you want but really if you have the means, just buy the damn stuff and if you can’t, don’t sweat it because if we all pool what we have it means our kids will be better equipped to learn and just pay it forward when you can!