For some parents, Wednesday will mean goodbye for the very first time, as a teacher takes the hand of their child and you sit in the parking lots with tissues.
For some, (this is our oldest) we celebrate the last first day of school for his elementary experience. Mom is already bawling about graduation and I keep reminding her "this is GRADE 8 GRAD and not 12."
Then there are those who have left the security and power of being oldest in school, the bosses of the school yard, to the "newbies, the rookies, the runts" of Ninth Grade. I think this might be more tough than the first day of school. That crashing reality of being not the big boss you thought you were was not one I particularly liked.
But don’t worry, the year will pass and you will soon feel anticipation build until Grade 12 where you will once again be "BIG KAHUNA".
Which brings us to our last milestone: The last first day of school. Some parents will rejoice, others will be sad, and some will simply be beside themselves that 17 years have gone by so fast.
So to moms, dads and teachers I say "Good Luck", and please have your chequebook handy. According to a recent report, the average cost for school supplies for a student is almost $600, while sending the average high-schooler back can cost more than a thousand.
But while you’re spending frantically there are supplies many will tell you your "children must have" but the reality may be quite different. Here’s a list of 10 things I think you don’t really need this week:
• Commercially available lunch box. I had a Star Wars and Scobby Doo Lunchbox, but do you really need it? They call it brown bagging it for a reason. Brown bags are cheap, and with some markers or crayons, you can decorate it. Better yet, use a recycled plastic ice cream pail. Its something your kids can paint and it will save some cash. Your local dollar store also has some cheap canvas bags. And who cares about design. After all its what’s inside (and what you can trade another student for) that counts.
• Mechanical pencils. Those big pencils with big flowers, sparkles, snow globes and other decorations that make your pen look like it belongs to the president of the Liberace fan club. Fancy pencils can easily get caught in backpack zippers or get lost. Remember what you had? No, not a rock and a chisel, but a No. 2 pencils work fine, and they’re much cheaper than their fancier counterparts.
• Pencil sharpeners. Last time I checked, most classrooms already had pencil sharpeners, so your kids don’t need to carry around their own. Plus shavings get everywhere, and there’s a razor blade in there! Some come in different shapes too. Baseball or footballs? Not long before kids are tossing for a touchdown, or seeing how fast they can throw a knuckleball with their sharpener.
• Laptop. Dakota Collegiate in Winnipeg is the only school that has made this mandatory, but brace yourself, it is coming. All schools already have computers and best of all they’re free. Apple is said to be coming out with an iPad this Christmas for less than $250 so that will help with "school of the future". Probably by the time your kids are required to buy one, they’ll retail for less than $200. No consolation with the 20 outfits, six pairs of shoes, and dozens of other binders, books and gagets to buy, but it won’t be as bad as you think.
• Dry erase markers and erasers. SmartBoards to my understanding can’t use regular dry-erase markers. SmartBoard is such a creative name for a computerdoodle. That’s what I would have called it. Then again, computerdoodle sounds like a device they might use in a clown school, thus likely why they went with smartboard.
• Dorm room phone. (For those going back to BU this fall.) Some universities automatically tack on a charge for a dorm-room phone. (12 year old girl voice: Hellooooooo?) Everyone has a cell phones, so use it instead. Plus if your friends all use cell phones with area codes from home, you may need to dial long distance just to call someone down the hall. And everyone has either Skype, FaceTime or both, so cut the cord, and save your cash for your cell bill. However Google "tin can phone" for some dorm fun later this fall. You’ll thank me later.
• Paper dictionary or thesaurus. Too much work. Easier to find online. When was the last time you looked something up in a dictionary? If its that critical, every school has a library and if they don’t libraries still exist (for the time being) so go check it out. Books are cool, just not practical.
• Cash. The less money you send with kids the better — for the same reason you wouldn’t pin an envelope of cash to your pet’s collar. It’s going to go "bye-bye". If there’s an online payment option for acticities, lunch or any additional costs, that’s way better. Experts say if you do send money, place it in a labeled envelope in a zippered section of the book bag or on the floor of the book bag. Pinning an envolpe to little Johnny’s sweater vest with LUNCH MONEY written in big letters is a recipe for disaster.
• iPod Touch/iPhone/smartphone/e-games. I’m going to sound old like dirt, but kids, please go play! Enjoy your childhood. Kids, look at your parents. They’re typing and looking and looking and typing on their phones and computers and life is passing them by. You’ll have plenty of time as an adult to have these time suckers slowly zap the life from your existence. Breathe fresh air, make a snow ball, go on the swings, actually talk face to face with a friend. You’ll thank me.
• Credit cards. For university/college this is no joke. Debt is brutal as it is with student-loans, but credit card companies will take it one step further. Twenty-eight per cent interest may not sound like much, but before you know it that $20 pizza you purchased 10 years ago now costs $175 with intrest. Financial experts suggest making sure a student’s debit card is loaded with money for living expenses, transferring money on a regular schedule. What do you need a credit card for anyway. That’s what parents are for. They know you’re going to run out. On the morning show last week, one of our triva questions was "What do parents think will happen to their college kids in the first month of school?" Answer: They will run out of money.
And wile most of us are rifling through bargain bins for last-minute back-to-school stuff, some parents of the rich and famous are dropping thousands of dollars this weekend preparing their little darlings for Wednesday. Ever wonder what Fortune 500 tycoons, or Hollywood movie stars buy for their kids at this time of year? Here are a couple of bank-breaking examples of how high-end designers would like you to dress your little one:
• Dolce and Gabbana wants you to drop $475 on an animal print schoolbag.
• Lanvin is offering a pencil case ... for $115.
• Maybe your tot needs a Gucci backpack ... for $700 plus.
• Juicy Couture has a $48 Trapper Keeper-style book binder.
• In case it rains, Burberry has $150 rain-boots for your kid.
• And finally, for the child who has EVERYTHING ELSE, Gucci would like to outfit her in a $1,680 pink leather jacket. (Really? She’ll probably grow out of it by Christmas.)
Joke this week
A wise schoolteacher sends this note to all parents on the first day of school: "If you promise not to believe everything your child says happens at school, I’ll promise not to believe everything he says happens at home."
- Tammy Tucker Thompson
- Jacquie Gensorek
- Lily Bueckert
- Marlene Kirton
- Megan Derbowka
- Chelsea Blouin
- Elisa Brisbin Dorner
- Dorthy Kozakevich
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 1, 2012