We left the house for what I thought would be a quick shopping trip last week.  There were only about a dozen things on the list – we’d be in and out in half an hour, tops.  Piece of cake.

Until we walked through the door and saw the school supply lists.


I’d forgotten that I wanted to tackle this job before leaving town.  Did I want to spend the next 45 minutes compiling the extraordinary list of supplies put out by the kids’ school?  No, not really.  But there I was, standing in Wallyworld, thinking about all the ways my head was about to explode.

In an odd way, I can honestly say this is one of the few times having the kids along on a shopping trip was actually a help.

In years past I’ve stood in the school aisle, juggling two grade level lists and trying to keep it all straight.

Three packages of notebook paper for this one, two packages for the other.  Two boxes of crayons for this one, crayons plus colored pencils for the other.  Glue sticks and scissors and three-ring binders.  And, possibly my favorite item on the list, three-holed two-pocket folders without prongs, different colors.  Four for this one, six for that one, keeping track of who has which colors…


I can’t begin to imagine how many people over the years have passed me as I stood in one aisle or another, staring at the shelves and muttering to myself absent mindedly.  I’d worry about how crazy I must have looked, but most of those people were mothers who were juggling lists of their own.  It’s kind of like being on the Titanic – we might be sinking, but at least we’re all going down together.

So this year I put the kids to work.

I was in those aisles for a good, long while.  Watching the kids try to figure out exactly where the section of 1.5″ binders began and ended.  Listening to T-man give me what turned out to be a valid reason for needing the binder that cost $3.00 more.  Seeing them paw through the boxes of two-pocket folders in a variety of colors in search of ones without the dreaded prongs.  Add in Bear’s longing for sparkly, unique, or funky folders and we’re talking about serious shopping here.

But…it wasn’t all me.

I manned the list and shuttled the kids back and forth, assigning things to pull off the shelves and checking items off as they went into the cart.

And surprisingly, as chaotic as conquering the list felt, it was still better than juggling it all myself.

I guess there are perks to them getting older after all.