Ah, Irony, My Old Friend

Last week, Garbanzo took the girls shopping for their school supplies.  Unlike most kids who are trying to pretend that school is not going to start, my kids are counting down the days.  Meanwhile, Garbanzo the Teacher is trying to slow down time using all of his comic book knowledge trying to tap into a hidden super power.

The girls presented their 1st grade and 4th grade school supply lists, and they were off to Fred Meyer (think a localized Super Walmart – one stop shopping).  Almost $200 later, they came home with supplies.

Garbanzo later that night when I was getting their purchases out of the middle of the dining room began ranting about the cost of the school supplies.  And, wondering why he was buying so many of the items on the list – why weren’t the teachers?! 

You’ve picked up that my loving and talented husband Garbanzo is a teacher, right?  If not, he will be starting year #11 in the public school sector, and he taught 2 years in the private sector.  He has taught preschool through 8th grade. 

His current place of employment, the place both kids also attend, is a fairly well-to-do school.  (Like how I soft peddled the fact the parents are freaking rich?)  The school can’t afford a librarian, and the parents raise the $30,000 needed for her.  It is insane. 

Knowing this, the teachers (some of them) throw everything and the kitchen sink onto the supply list.  Why not?  Why buy your own disinfectant wipes, if you can start the year with 25 containers of them?

Garbanzo has never taken that tact.  Maybe it was spending too many years teaching at an inner city school where the parents were so poor, you were happy if they showed up to school clean.  Maybe that is what makes Garbanzo grateful for any supplies that show up each year. 

Even when we were just struggling ourselves with a new baby, we were making sure the kids at his school had paper, pencils, crayons, etc.  Each school year, we would make the assumption that he would get nothing from the parents.  And, many times, he was right.

Did the school have a PTA?  Kind of, if you could the parent who led another parent and called it a PTA, a PTA.  While the two woman’s hearts were in the right place, they never could see the economics behind fund raising. As a result, many of their attempts yielded very little, if any, return.  The teachers tried to guide, but never had success.

I asked Garbanzo if he ever asked for anything odd on the school supply list.  He said no.  Pencils, paper, pens, markers, scissors, glue, and a three-ring binder were usually his normal requests. Kleenex was a plus, but not expected.  The kids burn through it faster than is really normal anyway, so he would prefer they brought it when needed.  Hand sanitizer is another interesting but not necessary item.  The school supplies soap and water, so they might as well use that first. 

He doesn’t ask for Sharpies; he buys his own.  He doesn’t ask for disposable cameras; he uses his own digital if a camera is needed.  He doesn’t ask for zip-lock baggies; he buys his own.  Same goes for paper towels. 

As he tells his parents when asked what to send to school, he wants well-nourished, well-rested children who are ready and willing to learn.  That is the most important thing the parents can do for their kids.  And, not just day one but throughout the year. 

Meanwhile, we are throwing $200 worth of school supplies at the teachers.  And, we haven’t even started picking up the supplies Garbanzo will need.  Thankfully we can write those off on taxes, but still. 

Oh, and did I mention we haven’t even gone clothes shopping yet?  Just like all kids, I think my kids outgrew everything.  While Indigo gets hand-me-downs, DJ needs clothes.  And, she’s starting to need undershirts and other pre-puberty clothes….but that’s another post.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Just me... says:

    A great PTA can make all the difference.. We don’t buy school supplies.. Well, not much anyway (DD’s teacher wanted them all to have trapperkeepers and then there’s the backpack)..
    Our PTA furnishes each kid with a bag filled with paper, pens (red & blue), pencils (No.2 & colored), glue stick, scissors, folders, binder, spiral ring notebooks and I can’t remember what else..
    Good Luck!!!

  2. Our teacher just asked for tissues. So you know I am going to walk into the open house tomorrow with ALOT of tissues.

    I have sucking up to do.

    Otherwise we don’t have to bring anything, but I will slip in moisturizing hand sanitizer when Bath and Body works has sales as well as tissues.

  3. Oh don’t get me started…well I did do a post on this too. This kills me the things the teachers want. My first grader had to have 2 packs of wipes, two boxes of tissues, and a box of ziplock bags on top of the normal supplies!

    Now my 6th graders needs a $90 calculator for his Honors Algebra class….CRAZY!!!

    It really makes me sick!

  4. Emmy says:

    Paige & ASM – I love that approach of not really having to supply school supplies. In elementary school, they all end up being community supplies anyway – so why not just do it that way out of the gate and get better pricing due to volume.

    HB&GP – I had forgotten about your post about this too. The calculator, I can get behind that (not at 6th grade but later). I still have and use my calculator I got when I was like 14. It was expensive, but an investment. 🙂

  5. rage says:

    I think it’s ridiculous…the amount of crap that the kids have to get for school these days. Like yourself, we have two and that’s double the cost.

  6. What bothers me more than the never ending requests for paper or tissues or wipies are the never ending fundraisers and bs side projects. My god, look PTA tell me what you need and I’ll give what I can. The endless magazine/wrapping paper/candy drives make me nuts!

  7. Emmy says:

    I have a friend who has the greatest strategy ever when it comes to the sale of stuff. He walks into the teacher’s room the first day and hands her a check for $100 & says “do not send any of that sales crap home. Here is your cut for your classroom. If you need something, ask. My kids are here to learn not learn to sell stuff.”

    I have adopted a very similar tact.

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