Back to School Shopping = Fighting a Grizzly One Handed While Walking on a Tightrope

“I WANT A NEW BACKPACK!!” whined an eight year-old girl in the aisle next to me at Target.

Smelling blood, her older brother chimed in, “I WANT THIS NEW BACKPACK!!”

I cringed. If I was these kids’ mom, I would have dragged them out of the store and driven straight home.

“You both will get new backpacks this year. Grandma is going to buy them for you. We are only here to get what is on the list,” their mother placated, with only an edge of frustration creeping into her voice.

Gah!! Is this what back to school shopping with kids is like? 

I hate it- I spend more cash than I’d care to admit on school supplies, decorations and books each year for my classroom. I had heard from parents about the strife surrounding back to school supply shopping before, but I had always assumed that it had more to do with the bottom line of the receipt than anything else- which I could certainly empathize with.

Dude, me too.

As a teacher, I have always worked hard to limit the supplies needed for class to the bare essentials, thinking mostly about helping parents save money.

At Target, while I piled crayons and a desk planner into my own cart, I witnessed this patient mom continuing to try to convince her kids to stay calm and avoid conflict. (“We have 30 boxes of markers at home, but you can pick out any kind of pencils that you’d like!”)

All of a sudden, I understood the pain that moms and dads across America suffer each August. This strife clearly has as much to do with arguments surrounding backpacks and lunchboxes as spending money. Shopping on Amazon seems more and more appealing…and that Staples commercial “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year….” now seems even like some cruel, sick joke.


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