Back to School Shopping

I love buying school supplies. I really do. Homeschooling is really just one big excuse to buy new crayons, new glue, and cool new notebooks all year-long. And don’t get me started on the books I can pass off as “necessary” for education!

But back to school shopping is a whole other animal. I hate it. Hate it with a passion. Where else can you find desperate mothers, whining children, and overworked employees all in the same three aisles. (If you’re thinking Christmas, even that isn’t *this* bad!)

It took all my strength to load up the children and head to Wal-Mart today. I knew it would be a zoo, but I finally had Moose’s school supply list, and a rapidly dwindling amount of time in which to find everything on it. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that *I* make the list, and we can shop early, before everyone else is thinking about school, but when the stuff is already on sale. But Moose needs stuff for his year in the public school, so off we went.

We encountered children running around the school aisles unsupervised, trying to find the perfect color binder, or the folder with the coolest picture (hey, I remember Lisa Frank supplies; I know what’s it’s like!), or the right pencils, while their totally oblivious mothers stare dumbfounded, trying to find the pack of *16* crayons instead of eight or 24.

We also encountered mothers with no conscience, armed with heavy tanks, I mean shopping carts, ready to run down anybody and everybody, just to get the last box of 25 cent crayons. And if we weren’t dodging the soul-less cart wielders, we were trying to get around the cell phone happy moms, calling their friends and trying to figure out just what they were supposed to buy, all while blocking most of the aisle with their carts, their bodies, and their occasionally present children, who would show up every so often to throw something else in the cart when mom wasn’t watching.

And don’t even get me started on the store employees. I feel for them, I really do. I’ve worked in retail, and I know it’s no picnic, especially at busy times of the year. But I have to wonder if 2:30 in the afternoon the week before school starts is the best time to plunk a ladder in the middle of the most-traveled school aisle, causing backups that rival the interstate as rush hour. Or maybe it would be a better idea to leave a palette in the middle of the main aisle, forcing to people to walk to the back of the store and around, only to have to stand in a mob to get to the discounted school supplies on the other side.

The best part of the trip, however, is the amount of stock available. After several trips between the seasonal school aisles, and the regular school aisles, convinced that I will *never* find half of the stuff on my list, I notice my full cart, and think I must be done. So I check over my list–I finally found the right crayons, (after checking in two different places), have the right size binder after searching three spots, got the scissors on the first try, folders that were replaced partway through the trip but are now suitable, watercolor paints…wait, no paints. No paints in the seasonal aisles, no paints in the regular aisles, no paints left in the whole store.

Nope, this is the *best* part of the trip. The realization that after I wait in the checkout for 20-plus minutes, I get to go across town to Target and start the whole crazy process, with a whole new group of crazy shoppers, all over again, this time in search of *one* elusive item!

(I did find the paints at Target-the last package of them. Clearly God was watching out for me, as He must have known I didn’t have the patience to trek to undetermined store number three with all four children in tow!)

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