Back to Back to School

A Story of Parenting, Told in School Supplies

Kindergarten, First Child:

I purchased these school supplies over a year ago, have been awake since Friday labelling every pencil, every marker, every individual crayon, every eraser, and every individual tissue in the box. I have labelled every article of my child’s clothing, and moved on to labelling my partner’s clothing and the dogs’ collars, just in case. I have a prepared list of every lunch I will make for the next 280 days. I have alphabetised and colour coded my child’s hairs. I have double-checked and triple-checked the school supply list. This will be good. This will be fine.

Grade one, First Child:

Every. Item. Is. Individually. Labelled.

Received a copy of the school supply list for Grade One last spring, and the very next day went out and bought everything my child would need for this day. Spent the last week labelling crayons, pencils, duotangs, and the box of tissues. Also labelled my child’s shoes and outerwear.Hand-wrote jokes and stuff on little slips of paper that I tuck in to each lunch bag every day. Have baked cookies for lunches for the year, and none of the cookies include nuts, gluten, or dairy, just in case sharing happens.

Grade Two, First Child:

We bought school supplies in late June and it just occurred to me now that we could probably reuse some of the supplies from the last two years. I mean. Who needs that many crayons? But I caved and bought the 64-pack *with an included sharpener* because if anyone understands why you need silver, gold, AND bronze crayons, it’s me. Apparently every kid’s parents shops at the same place because one of the shoes that came home last year has some other kid’s name in it and I didn’t notice until now. I’ve labelled everything according to instructions but have already lost the erasers. TWO boxes of tissues labelled this year, but I’m still not “allowed” to buy a label maker. Fascists.

Grade Three, First Child:

Remembered to shop for school supplies mid-July, managed to catch most things still on sale. A tantrum happened. It was me having the tantrum. Labelled the boxes, not individual crayons. HOW MANY GLUE STICKS DOES ONE CHILD NEED? Rainbow duotangs, dividers, looseleaf. Don’t students use scribblers anymore? Oh. They WERE on the list. Went out last night to try to find scribblers. All pink. But they’re labelled. Screw the fascists, I’m getting a label maker. Don’t know where the dog collars are.

Grade Four, First Child:

Bought school supplies beginning of August; “back to school sale” is a bloody joke. Paid TOP DOLLAR for off-brand erasers and pencil crayons. Will most likely have to resupply halfway through the year. Got kid to label stuff. Kid was Not Pleased. Claimed they “didn’t even like crayons anyway” and so shouldn’t have to label them. I suggested reusing school supplies from previous years. Suggestion was met with defiance. Somehow all last year’s school supplies have disappeared in the last 24 hours. Glue was likely all dried out anyway. Do kids still sniff glue, or was that an 80s thing?

Grade Five, First Child; Kindergarten, Second Child:

Ordered school supplies online at the end of May. Paid extra to have everything labelled by the school supply company. They even deliver to the school. This will be fine. Sat down with fresh coffee and a good book after children were off.

Grade Six, First Child; Grade One, Second Child:

Child the Eldest lost all three calculators last year and just thought today to mention it. Said didn’t need any new school supplies and would reuse last year’s supplies. Chose to believe them; made sure to pack everything required in Child the Eldest’s backpack while they were in bed. Child the Younger kept their school supplies in such good condition through Kindergarten I’m not sure they even ever used them. Bought new anyway; labelled shoes. Forgot to make lunches. School serves hot lunches. Children will both get pizza or hot dogs, once a week at most. Baked cookies for both classes (nut free, gluten free). Am running out of jokes for lunch boxes. May start on limericks.

Grade Seven, First Child; Grade Two, Second Child:

Who the hell loses just one shoe? Child the Eldest stole all Child the Youngest’s new school supplies, peeled off or scribbled out labels with Youngest’s name saying “you just don’t understand what it’s like to be poor”. Will resupply Youngest today. Will also re-label. Child the Eldest is requesting dirty limericks in lunch kits. Child the Younger is crying because dogs cannot come to school. School supply store is out of label-makers. Sent bags of chips from forgotten box of last year’s Hallowe’en treats to school for class. Remember: limericks were NOT appropriate for lunch box jokes last year. Consider pithy haiku. Have opened a box of wine.

Grade Eight, First Child; Grade Three, Second Child:

At Child the Eldest’s insistence, bought all new school supplies online. Didn’t check to see if they’re labelled, just dumped them all in Eldest’s backpack when they arrived. This morning, massive fight over weight of backpack. “First day of school” pictures should be *charming*. Youngest doesn’t care about new supplies; is still taking everything usable from last two years, which is most things. Apparently Youngest doesn’t eat erasers like Eldest does. Eldest has informed us they will not eat any lunch from home unless it’s Subway because of the southwest sauce. Have made southwest sauce. Several recipes. Found one most like Subway’s. Youngest doesn’t care; prefers to have lunch at school. Youngest has requested cupcakes rather than cookies and more jokes in lunch kit. Labelled both children’s jackets and ALL EIGHT SHOES.

Grade Nine, First Child (first day of high school); Grade Four, Second Child:

Who loses just one shoe!?

All new school supplies for Eldest, including new scientific calculator. Perhaps Eldest will get out of bed before the bell rings. Remembered to order school supplies online for Youngest; they no longer arrive at school, and they no longer arrive pre-labelled. Youngest and I spent all afternoon yesterday labelling individual pencil crayons. “This is silly,” Youngest said. “If I lose a pencil crayon we literally have a thousand more in the art centre at home.” This child is wise. Made cupcakes for Youngest’s class; Eldest informed me “legit nobody does that anymore in high school, MOM. But I’ll have some when I get home.” Eldest then proceeded to eat six cupcakes.

Grade Ten, First Child; Grade Five, Second Child:

Bought school supplies last week. Everything was picked over like so many grocery store turkeys at Thanksgiving. Eldest may have burned last year’s school supplies so as not to be forced to reuse them. Also, needs a *new* scientific calculator (because “Jeff borrowed mine, or whatever; it’s gone”). Informed me five minutes before the bell. How does someone lose an entire *trombone*? Youngest dutifully labelled boxes of pencils and erasers and collected reusable materials from last year. Noticed several markers and pencil crayons have some other kid’s name on them. This child will go far. Cannot find dogs. Have opened a bottle of whiskey.

Grade Eleven, First Child, Grade Six, Second Child:

Bought school supplies over the weekend. Eldest is on their own for everything other than the NEW two hundred dollar new scientific calculator with graphing features. Had to be colour display. Also, hot pink. Also rechargeable. Labelled calculator. Included return address. Youngest only wanted new markers, duotangs, and highlighters. Labelled Youngest’s shoes, jacket, bunnyhug, cap, lunch kit, band instrument, and favourite dog. Who loses an entire winter jacket before the end of winter? Current winter jacket has some other kid’s name in it. May pick up new wardrobe at school’s Lost and Found during open house. Am surprised Eldest is even wearing shoes. Baked cake. Ate it. Drank.

Grade Twelve, First Child, Grade Seven, Second Child:

Are you kidding me? School? Today? Crap. School supplies purchased at the dollar store yesterday, still in shopping bags. Labelled the shopping bags; stuffed them in Youngest’s backpack. Eldest may or may not have a spare first thing in the morning. Reported not needing any school supplies because “screw school, man”. Slipped some paper, pens, and pencils in Eldest’s binder just in case. Did we even get a school supply list last year? Well *I* don’t know where it ended up. Probably at the bottom of a locker. Gave kids each five bucks to buy lunch at school. “Don’t get the chicken fingers. BECAUSE CHICKENS DO NOT HAVE FINGERS, THAT’S WHY”. “How can your shoes not fit? You’ve been wearing them for three months. Just today they don’t fit. Okay, well, we’ll put that on the list”. Made a sandwich, Eldest forgot it on counter. Will probably still be there tonight since Eldest “no longer eats lunch”. Am on chesterfield, weeping with bottle of scotch.

Grade Eight, Second Child:

There’s, like, a bag? Of school supplies? From the past twelve years? Somewhere? Maybe in the games room? Check the garage. Hey, here’s a pencil. And a pen. Probably that’s all you need. We can get whatever else you need next week. Stuff goes on sale after the first week. Ask Dad about shoes – you can probably wear Eldest’s shoes if you need to. You want some of my shoes? Try not to lose your jacket this year. What do you mean, you don’t know where your backpack is? It’s literally right beside you right now. I made you a lunch; it’s in the – where the hell is the lunch I made last night? Oh. You ate it for a snack after supper last night. Okay. Well. Come home for lunch, I guess. Here, take the dog.


6 responses to “Back to Back to School”

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Avatar

    THAT’S why I homeschooled. The NONSENSE.

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      Truth be told I’d probably have been worse if I homeschooled. My supply list would’ve included a label maker, though.

  2. molly Avatar

    Oh my dear! You make me laugh! It’s all so true!

    1. cenobyte Avatar


  3. Der Kapti Avatar
    Der Kapti

    Nice one Cenobyte, like it, like it. Is this going to your CBC column? It should…

    1. cenobyte Avatar

      If only I’d written it four weeks ago, I might’ve had a shot!

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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