“School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days
‘Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hick’ry stick…”

Will Cobb and Gus Edwards ©1907


This song has always left me with more questions than answers.  Why do they say “dear old” Golden Rule days?  Did they graduate out of that one?  Why does Reading have an apostrophe in front of it when you haven’t dropped a letter?  And how exactly does that hickory stick set the rhythm?  I imagine a teacher thumping a walking stick on the floor, but it also makes me think about nuns and those rulers…

At any rate, we’ve reached the final weekend before school begins – that milestone deserves an academic edition of Things I Just Can’t Handle.

1.  Teachers, you know I love you.  I think you bleed yourself dry getting ready for our babies each August.  But still…I cannot for the life of me understand why those supply lists couldn’t be posted on the school website before Meet The Teacher night.  It’s not like you need to go in on August 1st to work this out; by the time teachers start back I know you’ve got an idea what kids need for your class.  Send your list (or your team’s, if you’re gonna be super organized about it) to the office (or whoever maintains your school website) and Put That Puppy Out There.

2.  Side note regarding #1: This year I waited to do most of our shopping.  As a parent who bought items off the website’s “general supplies” description last year and found out at Meet The Teacher it was all wrong, I figured I’d avoid the stress.  T-man was completely fine, but Bear was Beyond Herself that it was five days before school starts and We Are Not Prepared.  Don’t need the drama, thank you very much.  Which leads us back to Put That Puppy Out There.

3.  Did you know it was possible to ruin someone’s life by refusing to pay for crappy, flimsy, whimsically decorated binders?  Yeah.  I didn’t either.

4.  Blue versus black.  Fine versus bold.  Mechanical versus wood.  Yellow versus pink versus green versus blue.  For the love of all that’s holy, just pick your writing supplies.

5.  By the time I’ve muddled our way through two-thirds of the lists I can just barely see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m beginning to think it’s conceivable we’ll leave the store sometime during hour two.  Except that’s when one kid discovers the stash of Trapper Keepers and the other decides to swap notebook colors.  Hit reset.  Try not to cry exhausted tears in aisle four.

6.  I’m reminding one kid to do laundry for next week.  The other already has six outfits (six!!) laid out across her floor.  But guess which will take longer to get dressed on Day One?  And is there anything I can do about that?  No.  No, there isn’t.

7.  Even the Office Max employee raised her eyebrows at the eight single subject notebooks Bear placed on the counter.  Eight.  But sure enough, T-man said they actually used all eight notebooks last year so what the hell do I know.

8.  Backpacks, P.E. bags, lunch boxes – the struggle to find sturdy containers for the middle school student is real.  Add in fashion choices and the name brand issue and it can be enough to drive a typically pseudo-reasonable mom to the brink.

9.  For reasons surpassing understanding, it came as a surprise to my kids that I wasn’t willing to buy them the $14 scissors.  Fourteen dollars!  I’m sorry, are they battery operated?  Comfort cushioned so you don’t get blisters?  No?  Okay, then, pick one of the $7 pairs below it and let’s move on.

10.  One of these years I’ll remember that school supply shopping is a marathon and I’ll begin training in July.  Staying on my feet for two and three hour stints.  Scavenger hunts using at least five separate target lists.  Locating elusive items, backtracking through aisles, searching high and low for every last single subject wide ruled spiral notebook.  Plus a cool locker organizer.