Just a thought—

An educational buying spree

Does anyone out there remember when you could carry your school supplies in a medium-sized sack? Back in the day grade school students needed three #2 pencils, a 12 count box of crayons, two Big Chief tablets, rounded-point scissors, a package of colored construction paper and brown glue.

Middle and high schoolers’ needs were a bit more sophisticated. Loose-leaf notebooks and paper. A drawing compass and protractor for math maybe. And, of course, three #2 pencils. Nothing that couldn’t easily be transported from home to school.

Times have changed. If you don’t think so, ask the lady down the street. She volunteered to help her son when he took his four daughters (ages five, eight, 10 and 13), who attend a Parochial school, to get supplies. It was a harrowing experience.

The Big Chief tablet days are long gone. Each child, no matter the age, had a list that included two large boxes of Kleenex, two rolls of paper towels, Clorox Wipes, hand sanitizer and zip lock bags. Backpacks and pencil boxes made every list. They all were to bring six (yes, six) twelve-packs of pencils, 500 sheets of printer paper, glue sticks, Elmer’s glue, highlighters and dry markers. Depending on the age, either crayons or colored pencils were required Depending on the age, headphones for computers were needed. Everyone needed pink erasers and spiral notebooks. For some reason, they all needed multiple folders in specific colors. For some reason, they all needed red ballpoint pens (not mechanical).

It might have been easier if they hadn’t waited until the day before classes began. A Target was the nearest store that would probably have everything on the list, so they went there—along with a huge percentage of all the other back-to-school shoppers in the metropolitan area.

Daddy took five-year-old Mary. Nana took eight-year-old Georgia. Cecilia and Ali did their own shopping. They assumed two shopping carts would be sufficient. Wrong. They were overflowing in minutes. They started cramming things on the bottom shelves.

There was not a blue folder in the building. The compartment that held red ballpoint pens was empty. One child picked out a headphone that cost more than a year of hot lunches. The tears started flowing when she had to put it back and get a “crummy” one.

At one point they discovered that Cecilia, age 10, was nowhere to be found. A casual look around was not successful. A second sweep was fruitless. Being a grandmother, the lady panicked. She went running through the building yelling the child’s name. People either laughed or looked away in pity.

Just before insisting the manager do a lockdown Cecilia ambled out from behind a row of video games. Calm returned—until it was discerned that in the heat of the moment one of the carts had disappeared. There was not the least doubt in anyone’s mind that some other shopper in the store would soon realize he or she had the wrong cart. But when? And how to make the connection? What to do?

The second time around it was much easier and faster. It helps if you know the territory. They even found one package of red ball point pens in the compartment filled with glue guns.

Nan Chapman is a Chillicothe native.