The Brody Bunch – School Supplies, Getting Ready for a New School Year

img_0334I am Like the Elf Character of School Supplies

In June, I started to notice Back To School school displays.  And, like Will Ferrell’s Elf character who gets so excited about Santa, Christmas cookies and such, I am that level excited about school supplies … until I get the sanctioned school lists and process how much money this will cost me for the Brody Bunch four.  While I recognize that college supplies are much higher, I am merely commenting on school supplies for grades 5, 6, 7 & 8.  Yup, I see the same teachers and classwork four consecutive years.

Rebelling Against the Approved School Lists

With all due respect to our understaffed custodial staff, I can’t manage the requests for paper towels, wipes, etc.  I am a rebel, if each parent was compliant, where would the school possibly store 4 rolls of paper towels times however many kids are in the overcrowded school?  So, in essence, I am doing the custodial staff a favor by not sending in what would amount to pallets of tissues and paper towels.  Though I am empathetic that there is a need.  

Move the Line Item: No Paper Towels, Yes Extra Pencils

In lieu of cleaning products (and a huge thank you to those who supply such necessary needs) I prefer giving teachers extra pencils and paper and other basic supplies that are a stretch for some families to donate let alone replenish.  It’s ridiculous that teachers dig into their own pockets to pay for supplies. Chip in if you can!

Chaotic Shopping, We NEED Pencils, We WANT Pencils

Because I love clearance priced school supplies so much, I have enough items in our inventory from last year to allocate to the Brody Bunch for this academic year, but that’s not how this works. I still like the process of gathering the supplies.  Without scientifically compiling four grade lists, we need at least 22 notebooks and 18 pocket folders alone according to my calculations. Last night I spent $64 on four 3 inch binders. And, in the days to come, I will join hoards of other frustrated parents and tired children in the big box stores as we all try to adhere to the back to school lists.  Then after we conquer the lists, inevitably, an amended list comes home from the specialty teachers and we get to do this all again!

Paper Work, Use Your Free Address Labels!

During the first week of school, and it happens during back to school nights, we have to sign the same form over and over for each kid with new school year papers.  My best trick and recommendation is to use address labels: I am not writing the Brody Bunch’s common information four times.  But at least I have lots of new writing utensils to get the job done if I should run out of address labels.  One very important form to fill out as soon as possible is your current PTA form with dues.  Your kid and the teachers benefit from PTA dues.

Beyond the Classroom, Extracurricular Activities, Schedule That Too

In addition to school supplies comes extracurricular activities and all the gear and equipment needed for those commitments. The Fall sports season is torturous to the matriarch of the Brody Bunch. We allowed our four kids to play baseball, soccer and participate in theater.  Our breakdown for the Fall ONLY includes:  2 travel baseball teams, 1 travel soccer team, 1 club level soccer team, 2 theater students and a vocal student and possibly two school soccer teams.  Plus Hebrew school and regular school. And, one parent coaching while both parents work full time. Calendars and grids are updated constantly to manage the day to day shuttling necessary to keep everyone accountable, happy and active.  And, we have two rolling coolers which transport cold water, iced coffee, crudités and an assortment of hummus and dips.

Wishing for a Liquor License

So, here’s to wishing that Target, Walmart, Staples and Amazon had all of the items we are requested to have, and since they don’t carry everything in a one stop shop, let every screaming parent in the aisles know that you would support such establishments having a liquor license during these trying times.

Dry Run, We Are in Training For the School Year Routine

I started getting up at the normal school year time.  We will only be 2.5 hours late on the first day of school, and without our paper towels, if we don’t have to eat breakfast, pack lunches, wear matching clothes and drive to school in rush hour. Further, we need new lunchboxes.  180 days of school times 4 kids equals 720 lunches. Go Team Brody!

2 thoughts on “The Brody Bunch – School Supplies, Getting Ready for a New School Year

  1. I am going to make a comment that is probably going to drive the parents who read it crazy, but I feel, as a former public middle school teacher in Mass. and an adult who fondly recalls his early childhood and early adolescence, I must do so. Today’s kids, particularly those who grow up in middle-class suburban neighborhoods, are over-scheduled by their parents to the nth degree.

    My concern is not with the value of the extracurricular activities described (e.g. Hebrew school, traveling baseball and other athletic teams, music lessons etc.). It is that by foreclosing the opportunity for kids to make their own plans to get together and socialize in authentic, healthy, and self-initiated ways we are stunting our own’s kids progressive adolescent development; When I was a kid through the sixth-grade, my parents scheduled me for some of these same activities described in Robyn’s post, but they left time during the week and on weekends for me just to call up a friend and make plans to get together at my house or his (usually his as a younger adolescent) house or a mutual friend’s house just “to play.” The kids, not the parents and certainly not some martial, fascistic organization such as Little League (the Little League official who developed the concept of “everyone get a trophy” should be banned from life from organizing child athletics), would organize themselves to play tennis baseball, kickball, four-square or touch football or just create their own version of a new game, with new rules that we made up that day or that week

    Some of my fondest memories of a child were those afternoons where my friend and I just decided we would get together at a one of our houses, go to the backyard, and, after some considerable debate, decide on an athletic game to play for the balance of the afternoon until we would have to go to our separate homes for dinner. You don’t need to be a parent or a child development expert to understand or appreciate it is in these types of “self-created play” contexts where kids develop the vital 21th Century skills of collaboration, compromise, creativity, and leadership.

    My brother and his wife have a very intelligent and social 17-year-old daughter. Nevertheless, when she was younger adolescent, she was also over-scheduled to the nth degree. As a result, when she was a younger adolescent, I would often observe her make the following query to her parents during the limited free time she had in her schedule, “What should I do now? I am bored.” As an uncle, I kept my mouth shut, but I often yearned to advise her, “Anna, pick up the phone and call_____ _____and make a plan to get together and decide among yourselves what you want to do this afternoon.” OK, now Anna is a very bright, social 17 years old and has considerably more independence when she was 13, but I would still rate her leadership, collaboration, compromise, negotiating, emotional intelligence and creativity skills at a less developed level than I possessed at her age.

    Of course, when you have two working parents and multiple kids, the need to schedule your kids becomes paramount or else you will go out of your mind and your kids would necessarily suffer from a lack of organization and planning on your part. Still, I believe that even working parents of multiple children should try to “schedule some free time” in their kids’ weekly schedule to permit their kids’ creative thinking and affective emotional skills to grow in a progressive manner through their adolescence.

    Finally, I would like to personally applaud Robyn for developing this interesting and thoughtful blog and again urge her husband, Mark, to find some time in his busy weekly schedule to make, maybe, one contribution per week so the views of the male parent is aptly represented. –Jeff Goldings

    1. Jeff, thanks for your comments. In short, what I think has happened is that most families now have two working parents and the schools are unable to have a plethora of arts and sports during the school day which parents have to compensate for after hours. Often, the kids’ extra activities are a social outlet for the parents, too. It gives us a time to do activities with the kids that they like doing while meeting families with similar interests. Despite all of the scheduling, I believe that there is still a lot of time to be bored and figure out what to do on your own. In our house, we don’t have gaming stations or activities that help guide the kids, so that is how we handle kids needing to think through unscheduled activities. Their friends like coming over perhaps because things are so simple in the down time… or they like my cooking.

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