First thing this morning, Tall and I go to Target armed with the list Crazy Town Elementary gave him. At the top in bold letters it says,
School Supplies Required (*Recommended to purchase NO LATER than June 30th).
I see the little asterisk part and laugh and laugh. When I’m done laughing, I laugh some more. School just finished on June 17th, why on Earth would I go to the store in June? I had all summer!
Obviously, the schools and Target are in cahoots.
We pull into the parking lot today, August 16th. A few stray tumbleweeds blow by. I briefly feel overjoyed that we will be shopping peacefully by ourselves and avoiding the crowds for once. The joy I feel is quickly replaced by Procrastinator Dread upon walking into the area previously known as the “Back To School” section.
I see a leftover display of a few forlorn highlighter markers, an abandoned purple notebook, and, as an afterthought, a small bin of crayons (Crayola World Pack 1000—that’s right, 1000 crayons in every color imaginable, including Valentine Swirl and Iced Salmon, or the lovely three pack of Craywannabe Prime—an economically wise choice if you only need red, blue, and yellow crayons) surrounded by …
wait for it …
Christmas ornaments. We skip right past that day on the calendar called Halloween, and we are onto the cash cow that is Holiday 2011. Santas and reindeer and snowmen sporting black felt hats blink up at us, smiling, as if to say, “Hey, dummy, good luck finding the cobalt blue notebook that was on the list! Ha! Put it on your wish list for Christmas, and maybe Santa’s elves will take pity on you!”
“Mommy,” Tall whispers, “I think Target might be out of all the school stuff.”
I look at his face, a circle of smooth white skin sculpted by angels and dotted with eyes the color of summer lakes. Was he about to freak out about Mommy’s procrastinator tendencies?
“You’re right, Tall, we might have to improvise.”
This is the part where Tall confuses the word “improvise” with “not bother going to school for the rest of your life, or at least all of second grade.”
“Yay! You mean it, Mommy? I really don’t have to ever go to school again?”
What just happened?
“Tall, of course you have to go to school. We are buying your school supplies. We will figure it out. Come on.”
Crazy Town teachers, though I love them, have a bizarre tendency to (how shall I put this gently?) make parents jump through hoops to prove their worthiness. The hoops include things like “Folder must be KELLY green, not moss green nor forest green nor mint green.” (Why?) Or, “Scissors must be Fiscar brand, no other brand will be accepted.” (Again: Why?) And the kicker: “Ruler must be in American.”
Be in American? What does that even mean? No rulers from China? No metric system? Please bring Barack Obama to school with you the first day?
No red pens.
No folders with Brads (how about Jennifers or Angelinas? Are they permitted?).
No college-ruled paper (you mean college has more rules than elementary school?).
No notebooks with any characters on them whatsoever.
All pens must be ballpoint. All tape must be clear. All glue sticks must be Elmer’s.
I do the only thing I can: I call Sammi. Sammi is my dear dear friend who also happens to be the Vice-President of the PTA.
“Sammi, it’s me. I’m stressing out, and I need your help. I’m here at Target, and, the thing is, well, uh, Sammi, uh …” here I switch to a whisper, lest other shoppers overhear my anxiety, “they are 100% sold out of school supplies! What am I going to do?”
“Oh, MOV.” Long very long still longer silence. “I was expecting your call.”
Am I that predictable?
“MOV, I have an important secret for you.”
“You know that dollar store right by Target?”
“The one called ‘Four Quarters= Bliss’? Is that the one?”
“Yes. Now, go in there. Go to the way back, near the ice-cream freezers and the mannequin with the fur coat on. Behind there, about ankle level, is a display called, ‘School Fun.’ Pick up one of the packs and take it up front and pay. EVERYTHING on that school list is in there.”
Sammi was a genius. This is exactly why I was friends with her: so her geniusness would rub off on me at some point.
“How do you know these things, Sammi? And how can Four Quarters make a profit by selling the school packs?”
“Who knows? Don’t question it. Just do as I say.”
Tall and I went right over there.
They were closed for renovations. Until October.