The Fresh Hell That Is School-Supply Shopping With 3 Kids

by Jill
Originally Published: 
George Rudy / Shutterstock

You will leave the house feeling confident, a little cocky. Your spouse questions your sanity because you are wanting to take three kids school-supply shopping, but you snidely tell him that they need to be a part of the process: They will take responsibility for their own list, they will understand that everything in this world costs money, and they will grow up to be superior in the areas of accountability, responsibility, and gratitude.

On the way to the store, they will fight over which kid gets which highlighter to mark their list, but their fight is easily quelled by reminding them that they can pick out a treat if they are helpful. You arrive at the store on a mission. You see hand sanitizer on an end cap and you barely slow your cart as you breeze by, grabbing two bottles with one hand.

You hit the school supplies section and easily cruise through crayons, markers, and glue sticks fairly well, though you have to double-check each list yourself because each kid has a specific count package that they are supposed to purchase.

By the time you get to folders and notebooks, the preschooler has wandered off and is pulling every toy that he can reach off the shelf. You remind him, gently, that you are there to shop for school supplies. By the fifth toy that he has attempted to smuggle into the cart, your reminders are no longer gentle and you wonder if the people on the other side of the aisle can hear you.

You get stuck at pencils. WTF is a Dixon Ticonderoga pencil? Every package of pencils that you examine has “Ticonderoga” written on them, but you see nothing that says “Dixon.” You hope that the “Dixon” part does not matter as you throw regular old Ticonderoga pencils in your cart — but you are sure to grab the ones that are already sharpened because you remember last year’s first-day-of-school eve when you were nearly crying from the pressure of trying to sharpen 48 pencils in time.

By dry erase markers, you have snatched the first-grader’s list out of his hand to check it off yourself. Your patience is wearing thin, and the child can only read every other word on the list anyway. You cannot find black, fine-point dry erase markers. Hundreds of packages of dry erase markers, yet the words “fine-point” are nowhere to be found! After heavy soul-searching, you grab regular black dry erase markers and hope that is what the list meant.

Effing judgy list.

What does “1 box pink top erasers” mean? you wonder. Are those the erasers that you put on the end of pencils? You are pretty sure that, in your entire life, you have never seen erasers packaged in a box. So you just chuck some regular old pink erasers in your cart without another thought.

Now it is time to move on to tissues, baby wipes, and Ziploc bags, all located at the other end of the store with the groceries. By this time, the kids are 100% over it — and so are you. They ask why you cannot buy them a toy, and your very honest answer is “Because I am the worst.” You are unreasonably angry at the store for not putting all that stuff with the school supplies. Tissues, baby wipes, and Ziploc bags have been on every single school supply list that you have ever seen, and if the store wanted to help a parent out, they would put it all in the same place. Also wine. The wine aisle should definitely be right next to the school supplies.

By this point, you are holding all three lists yourself, carefully scrutinizing each item. The kids are three aisles over drooling over Doritos that you refuse to buy because you are the worst. You realize that you have to double-back for Band-Aids and contact paper. You herd the kids through the store like cattle, and you wonder if contact paper even exists anymore because you cannot find it anywhere. A helpful store employee overhears you musing to yourself and points you in the right direction. You think about kissing her, but you settle for telling her that she is the best, which is the opposite of you, because you are the worst.

And you are pissed that you never bought a Fitbit because you have definitely hit your 10,000 steps by now. You find what you think is contact paper; however, nowhere on the package does it read “Contact Paper,” and you wonder if you even know what contact paper is. You make a mental note to call your mom about it later and head toward Band-Aids. You pass directly by the end cap with the hand sanitizer that you so confidently strode by earlier, and you realize that you no longer have any bounce left in your step.

Finally, you make it to the register. The kids keep asking you to buy this and that. But your patience is gone now, so you tell them, “The next person to say ‘Mom’ loses 10 stars!” Customers three lines over chuckle. They think you are joking. But you are as serious as the $200 tab that just rang up on the register.

You load the kids and supplies into the car and wonder how it is that you have been gone almost two hours because it feels like you have been gone for six — at least. You call your spouse and tell them you are just now finishing up, so you are pretty sure that you are going to be a day-drinker now.​ But dammit, you forgot to buy wine.

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