Mission Impossible

By Kellie Head


After twelve weeks of hearing “I’m bored” and “It’s too hot to play outside,” I am more than ready to send my little angels back to school. As the first day of enrollment rolls around, I am never sure if I should celebrate with champagne or prepare with migraine medication. It’s not as easy as dropping the kids off at the door and running. The administrators and superintendents spent their summer vacation scheming to make class registration a parental hazing.

Each district, each school, and each teacher has their own list of supply “needs” your children MUST have–leaving parents wondering if companies like Mead and Crayola offer teacher kickbacks for mandating exclusive use of their products.

Failure to procure exact paraphernalia results in parental detention: The teacher sends a note (in red ink, no less) requesting a meeting, then keeps you waiting in the hall for 45 minutes while your legs fall asleep in the student chair she provided for your comfort. Once in the classroom, she explains the importance of class unity and how proper supply-readiness plays a pivotal role in the education process. Any parent humbled by this experience better prepares for the following semester

Our first phase in “do it or die” supply shopping was securing store blueprints of Wal-Mart and Target. We plotted the best route to number 2 soft lead pencils, wide-ruled loose leaf paper, and compass/protractor combination sets, while carefully bypassing the Rugrat Wallapoluza display in the main aisle. Search and reconnaissance with the fewest possible casualties was our number one priority.

Our best-laid plans were foiled at the first turn. No one could have anticipated the angry mob hovering around the stock clerk as he unloaded the latest shipment of Paper-Mate pens and mechanical pencils, or the fistfight, taking place near the Trapper Keeper end-cap.

As I squeezed my arm in-between the blockade of bodies, to retrieve my take of the haul, a booming voice rang out over the crowd. The store’s manager announced a Blue Light Special on combination locks in the hardware department, causing a stampede of epic proportions. I’d have stayed in the deserted aisle to rummage through the remains for the contents of my list, but I too, needed a combination lock at a rock bottom price.

I hadn’t even considered the cost involved in nurturing my children’s scholastic well being. Kids always plead their case for the character stuff, like the Garfield notebook with 50 sheets of paper for twice the price of the generic brand. And they all want the latest Disney movie lunchbox. Imagine the school cafeteria- identical rows of youngsters all bickering over whose box belongs to whom and as a result, mothers all over town unpack some other student’s leftover bologna sandwich.

And, if the trappings of Loony Toon assignment books and Michael Jordan gym shoes weren,t enough to entice you into VISA Gold overload, maybe the premature bloom of Christmas decorations will do the trick. On every corner and at every intersection of the store I gasped at elves shamelessly promoting Mr. Know-it-All calculators and reindeer hauling a sleigh of colored pencils and wide-tip markers. I had to avert my daughter’s eyes as we dashed passed Frosty the Snowman sporting a Lisa Frank backpack and pimping Barney brand two-pocket folders.

Finally home, and unpacking more junk than we sold at our last garage sale, we divvied the loot into the appropriate child’s pile and began the inscribing process. Student names were required on every pencil, eraser, folder and notebook; I knew for certain, the teacher would take note of my penmanship. I stood back in awe, proud of myself for completing the “school supply scavenger hunt”, and living to tell the tale, when I heard a sobbing voice in the hallway wail, “Mommy, you forgot my glue sticks.”

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