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.