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4 Things You Didn’t Know About School Supplies


It’s September, which means ‘tis the season. It is again that time when we parents take up the lists and head to the store to do battle with the teeming masses, huddled, yearning for plastic binders with prongs and Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils. Soon, school will no longer be out for summer and parents must procure supplies. Every year, for every child, and it is always horrible.

Perhaps you are a one-percenter who can afford to skip the teeming masses, huddled, yearning for savings during a tax holiday. The rest of us have our weekend. The upshot is, soon we will send the little demons off to a place where they actually listen and behave like humans. Seriously. Maybe I’m the only one who was once tempted to stop a teacher mid-discussion and verify we were talking about the same child, but that’s a different article. When it comes to shopping for school supplies, you’re never too old to learn some new things

Communists Run Your Kids’ School

They do. That super-specific list of items is going to be taken and dumped into a community pool the whole classroom shares. Remember when you were a kid and had the super-rad Trapper Keeper decorated with the Delorean from “Back to the Future?”


This is why you’re a bad person now. Not everyone had that Trapper Keeper. Sure, they had need for it, just not the means. Our new, enlightened schools guarantee such injustice will never again blight our classrooms. Well, your classrooms. My kids go to a charter school, where they get to keep what they bring (except for the hand sanitizer that I discourage them from using anyway).

The List Is Three Years Old and Needs to Be Updated

The requirement is two 24-packs of pencils, but to keep prices constant despite inflation and rising expenses, those pencils now come in packages of 20. This is why you have approximately eleventy hundred loose No. 2 pencils floating around your house, although you can only find them after you’ve purchased more.

Then there’s the plastic school box—2¼” x 5 5/8” x 8¼”. Economics strikes again. Now it’s 2¼” x 5 ¼” x 8”. You grab it—knees weak, palms sweaty—and hope for the best. What about that kindergarten writing tablet? You’ll find it, eventually, buried behind boxes of blunt-tipped scissors, and find it’s labeled something else entirely. You need two, and there are two left. Another dad attempts to swoop in and snatch them, after all your hard work and Googling. That’s when you stab him with the blunt-tipped scissors and claim those writing tablets for yourself.

Your School Is in the Pocket of Big Crayon

The fat set of crayons with the sharpener built into the box is quite a different thing than the Trapper Keeper, apparently. When it comes to crayons, markers, and colored pencils, you can’t get away with that RoseArt garbage. No, your child needs Crayola.

Setting aside the fact that RoseArt is garbage and Crayola is totally worth the added expense, where do those administrators get off thinking they can dictate what brand of crayon kids use to create all those wonderful works of art that have begun overflowing from memory boxes and into the garbage can? Also, maybe Dixon Ticonderogas are the premier No. 2 pencil. I don’t know what type of pencils I used growing up, although I favored mechanical except when we were popping pencils and I turned out okay. Mostly. Stop laughing.

You Will Be Sent on a Snipe Hunt

Those teachers are all smiles and pleasantries, but they are not totally magnanimous. No, they will add something to that list you have no chance of finding, because it doesn’t exist. In hazing rituals, this is known as a snipe hunt, a game in which a newbie is sent off on an impossible mission solely to amuse the grizzled vets.

Don’t think your kid’s teacher won’t play along because she’s 22, enthusiastic, and energetic about teaching. Sending you on a snipe hunt is part of her hazing. So she puts it on the list, right there in black and white, knowing full well that no one at the store will have a clue what you’re talking about. Google, in its quest to adhere to its “Always Be Evil” motto, even gets in on the act and pretends that the Ticonderoga Red Grading Pencil is actually a thing, but it’s not. Stop looking for it, and just give the teacher a couple of dollars to let you get out of pretending. She’ll appreciate the green tea she buys with those few bucks, and you may need that goodwill when your oldest daughter decides to make the classroom skeleton flip the bird.

Soon, the season will be over and we’ll be preparing for another season altogether, one with lists and snipe hunts and kids at home because of the stupid winter break. Unlike our current predicament, at least that season is focused on Jesus, and focusing on the wonder of His birth distracts us from whatever those things we gave birth to are destroying.

Until then, go forth; teem, huddle, yearn. And if Ticonderoga Red Grading Pencils are an actual thing and you find them, send a couple my way. Otherwise, I’ll be buying a CD player for the classroom in penance for not completing the list. Again.