Mom Olympics: The School Supply Scavenger Hunt

How did humans learn before the invention of 3 ring binders?

Welcome, contestants! It’s that time again, time for our annual School Supply Game! Are you ready to begin?

First, you’ll need your list from your child’s teacher. Now, some of our teachers are very particular and know exactly what brand they prefer for their classrooms. They’ve had it with all the cheap brands that didn’t perform and are going to make sure they have a consistent product. View this as an additional challenge. Forget all the  store brand #2 pencils that are on sale and learn how to ask for Ti-con-der-o-ga.

Next, grab the sales circulars from the Sunday paper or the front of the store. Isn’t it exciting? The whole world is playing the School Supply Game! It doesn’t matter whether the store or the product typically has anything at all to with school. Everybody has an angle. Office supply stores and electronics retailers, sure, but even appliance manufacturers want to sell you a new refrigerator with a back-to-school snack drawer. You haven’t gotten this much attention since baby formula manufacturers were sending you samples and coupons!

As part of our normal disclaimer, we need to caution all contestants about the unbelievable deals for one cent, five cents, etc. These deals are the tar pit of school supply shopping, designed to have you search every corner of the store and eventually give up and ask an associate for help (this personal contact, we believe, encourages customer bonding and forces harried associates to stop stocking the empty shelves to hunt down your ten cent bag of erasers).

Of course, you’ll search the dollar deal bins first, imagining that the items you seek are in there. Instead, these bins are full of stuff you hadn’t even imagined, like pen holders made entirely of zippers, or football helmet tape dispensers. These are things that nobody needs but, come to think of it, are kinda cool. Why not ,when you’re saving so much on highlighters (and somewhere at store headquarters a marketing planner says ka-ching!)?

Also, beware the incredible products that may distract you on your scavenger hunt. Have you seen the line of accessories that can transform your daughter’s locker into a sort of Barbie town house for pencils? Choices include a battery operated chandelier and a scrap of shag carpet. These appeal to the girls entering middle school who have never had a locker before. After a few days of loading and unloading notebooks around a chandelier and a wad of carpet, they’ll rip the whole thing out.

Back to the game! You think you have some of this stuff already? Don’t be silly. Nobody wants to show up at school with colored pencils from last year. The point is not to gather the items that will serve the purpose, but to roam the aisles and BUY BUY BUY. If it’s not wrapped in cellophane, it doesn’t feel worthy of a new school year.

Good luck, moms, you’re off to a great year. Please note that your supply list specifies that your pencils arrive sharpened. You’ll need to allow time to sharpen every one of those Ticonderoga pencils. Perhaps there is a battery operated, coffee cup-shaped sharpener for mom somewhere in the deal bins?