Rebel With a Clause: The school-supply chore is upon us

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2002


August is here, and thus, the lines begin. Students and parents are getting back into the school mode, rushing to finish summer reading and anxious to meet the new teachers.

As I can recall from elementary and high school, early August is the time of year for waiting in lines, the most pain-staking task to those of us who are considered – what’s the term? – slightly impatient.

Wasting a late summer day standing in the long, slow text book line in high school wasn’t fun, but is nothing compared to the horror every mother knows come marble-notebook and loose-leaf-paper season. That dreaded, inescapable fate that accompanies school supplies shopping-the lines at Wal-Mart.

Every year you dread it, but each August you push your carts down the crowded isles of the chaotic store, pushing and bumping your way through just to find the exact brand of pocket folder listed on your school-issued supply list. You child insists all 10 folders, which are in complete disarray by now, have the right clips described on the paper. Nothing is organized by the time you arrive on the folder isle, and you could care less about the clips. You ask yourself, “Is all this really necessary?”

Then there are the crayons and markers, but you must be careful to chose the right package as to not destroy the life of your little one. These things are very important. Bold cannot be substituted for Bright and the original red-yellow-brown pack is nowhere to be found.

The list is slowly becoming less overwhelming as you check off the items in your cart. (Ever notice how everyone does that? It’s really the only way to organize your thoughts in the midst of grave confusion.)

You have gathered your four packs of lined paper (college or wide?), three marble notebooks (these are tricky to find), two packs of crayons (even though your child only has one set of hands and will never go through two packs in one year), tissue, paper towels, rulers, paints, markers, pencils, pens, protractors, on and on and on.

You may think you’ve overcome the worst of it until you head to the front of the store and find four million other parents with identical baskets and similar snarls. You can’t get through, and the find-the-shortest-line method is just not going to work this time. So you stand there. And wait.

The checkout process does not seems complicated to me, but visit your nearest Supercenter and expect to be amazed.

It takes FOREVER.

I think this is the absolute most antagonizing aspect of the dreaded school supplies shopping excursion.

You finally get to the register. Your total pops up in lovely green, glowing numbers, and you have spent well over $100 so your angel can be properly equipped in the wild world of the fifth grade. You cringe, then give in to the insanity as you swipe your debit card.

At last, it’s over. You have surrendered to the terrifying school supplies monster. After a deep breath, you begin to relax as you load the numerous plastic bags into your trunk.

Your blood pressure begins to descend. You have exactly one year to recuperate.

August 2003 is just 12 months away.

RACHEL HARRIS is a summer intern reporter for L’Observateur. This is the final column of her tenure.