Posted by: laughs4dads | August 2, 2010

Back to School

Well, it’s back to school time! And I’m celebrating with a few school-related posts.

I know–in many regions, schools don’t open for another month yet. But major advertisers want you to start buying stuff now so they can start Halloween advertising on Labor Day.

People who grew up in New York in the 60s can still remember the theme song of a long-defunct clothing store:

School bells ring and children sing
It’s back to Robert Hall again

Of course, if that had been true, Robert Hall might still be in business. But the point is that back-to-school season is a big deal for advertisers, because it’s the time that parents buy new clothes, and computers, and binders. Speaking of which, remember those two lever things on 3-ring binders that you could never open unless you pressed down on them at exactly the same time, as if you were turning the keys to begin a nuclear countdown? Well now those binders have increased in complexity to the point where you can’t even find the rings that hold the 3-hole paper, much less open them. (For instance, I give you the Case Logic SCMO-3 Customizable 3-Ring School Binder Organizer, complete with built-in accordion file, pockets for USB drives, cell phones and iPods, a handy organizer panel and a small refrigerator to keep a bagged lunch fresh.  Okay, kidding about the last part.  But it really is just a poisoned dart away from being something that “Q” would give James Bond.  Or was it “M?”)

When our daughter, Casey, was in school, we saved unused supplies at the end of one school year so we wouldn’t have to buy them again at the beginning of the next one. Naturally, after two months had gone by, we forgot where we put them. I suspect there are crates of construction paper and pencil cases somewhere in our garage.

Come late August, the schools would send out a supply list in advance, and we’d dutifully buy everything on it, only to find out there was one thing they’d left off, so we’d have to fight off the crowds in Staples the day after the schools opened, which was only marginally better than going to Walmart the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, there we’d be, combing the shelves for a very specific type of three-section notebook with pockets in the covers and reinforced holes and tabbed indexing and spiral binding and college rules (even though this was middle school–Casey was so advanced).  And it was, of course, the same notebook all the other parents were looking for because it had been left off their lists, too. And Staples would have exactly two of them in stock.

The actual first day of school was kind of anti-climactic, what with all the advertising that had been going on since late July. And my family never had that hustle and bustle of getting out in time to meet the school bus on the first day, because we were something like two feet within the distance that was deemed too close for the school bus. So we had to drive Casey every day, usually going three miles an hour because we were behind a school bus, which seemed to stop every few yards so that one kid could get on. We’d come a long way from when Abe Lincoln walked for hours to get to school: now kids on the same block couldn’t even walk a few feet so they could all be picked up at the same place, and here I was complaining about it because I was stuck behind the bus while driving my daughter a half mile to school.

Every new school year came with a set of fears. With a girl, we were always more concerned about the drama that would be played out in the corridors than about the academics that would be taught in the classroom. Who would form cliques…who would turn on her friends…who would discover sex…who would show up having turned into a Goth over the summer. And fifth grade was even worse!

Just kidding. College was even worse. Because then, we not only had to buy supplies, we had to buy furniture! We had to pack. We had to rent a van to schlep everything up to Providence, Rhode Island. Then we had to shop for more stuff while we were there. Then we had to come home and immediately ship up a bunch more stuff. And then, four years later, we had to bring it all home!

It’s now in our garage, alongside the construction paper and pencil cases.




  1. I know exactly where it all is… in the back closet. You never know when you’ll need some construction paper.

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