I remember when I was a naïve parent sending my first child to Kindergarten the first day. It was so sad. I missed her before she even disappeared into her classroom. I still miss my children when they go back to school, but now I cry for different reasons, because I’m not naïve anymore and know exactly what BACK-TO-SCHOOL means (at all levels).
Prepare to spend hours in Walmart pouring over that supply list that is 2 pages long in 8 point text, and more detailed than a phone bill. You will have to go to 4 stores to find that certain brand of pencils that is, of course, the most expensive, as well as only a certain brand and count of wet wipes (I wish I was kidding). You will have to rent a U-haul to carry all these supplies to your child’s classroom (so book your trailer early).
Buy earplugs and Advil (for yourself) if you have a child in beginning band; they don’t put that on the required list, but I highly recommend it (especially with strings or loud brass instruments).
You’ve dealt with six years or so of elementary school supply lists, so I suggest you rebel and don’t buy anything until they make you. Each teacher will send home their own additional list the first day of school of what they REALLY want your kid to have (and your child won’t show you this list until 10pm the night before they HAVE to have it). So make sure you have gas in your car for that inevitable late night trip to the store (your child will want to borrow your earplugs as I promise you’ll be grumbling).
If you thought public education was free, Elementary and Middle School should have cured you of that myth. Now welcome to high school where you might max out your credit card when you go to registration and pay for class fees, yearbook, activity cards and whatever else they can make up to force on your budget. It can be quite daunting as a newbie high school parent standing in lines that rival Disneyland in the summer (except that there is no fast pass), and reach the front and be handed a computer printout of what you owe.
And sports or cheerleading…well, that’s a whole different ball game. You will pay out your nose for these (and yes, the school doesn’t mind snot covered cash. I’ve paid them lots). If you want your child to get a future athletic scholarship, here’s something to think about. It costs the same either route you take. If they do get to a level that can win a scholarship, add up all you’ve paid to competitive clubs, traveling, and high school sports programs over the years, and you’ll find that it just about adds up to four years of tuition. So get on a risky prepay plan with sports, or pay for college when you get to that point. It’s your choice.
At least we send our kids into this one KNOWING it’s not free. Nothing from preschool on has been, but they pretended it was (although your wallet’s pretty empty from that free education). Welcome to college—where TRUTH prevails. Nothing’s free here, but at least we know it. Now you get to reserve the U-haul again (you haven’t had to do this since Back-To-School night in elementary). Everything has come full circle in the Circle of Life.
Now stop wasting your time reading this blog. Those high-strung elementary moms are on top of it and might book up all the trailers if you don’t snap to it and call U-haul quick. You don’t want to have to squish all your college kid’s belongings in that little Mazda of yours, do you?
***Photos courtesy of Stock.xchng