Back to School

People often say to me something along the lines of “…but I shouldn’t complain about my one child [or two or three or four] when you have five” in a sort of breathless voice heavy with – is it disbelief? wonder?  Probably a combo.

I try to respond reassuringly, maintaining that, while five kids is a lot of kids, one kid is, too.

How does that math work, where one kids is many kids?  Well, when you have one child who, like my oldest, considers you parent, nurse, playmate, entertainer, personal chef, teacher, paralegal, secretary, taxi driver, therapist (I seriously could go on and on, but I’ll spare you the rest), the duties can feel a little overwhelming at times.

I remember having one kid.  It was hard.

While I wouldn’t say that five kids is easier than one (in fact, I’ll say right here that it’s not), I would say that it’s its own special kind of hard.  Different hard.  Especially when it’s time to head back to school.

I’m certainly to blame for a good portion of the annual back-to-school chaos we face.  And not just for my role in the procurement or production of said children.

I developed a philosophy years ago that each child is different with different talents, different tastes, and different needs.  (Maybe some child psychologist developed that philosophy, but, since I don’t have time to read up on the subject, I’m claiming this one for myself.)

My philosophy has resulted in three kids at three different schools.  Abby, grade 6, is attending a private school.  Ian, grade 3, is attending an intensive learning special education program at a public elementary school.  Aden, grade 2, also with special needs, continues to be mainstreamed in a public school classroom but receives additional one-on-one and small group instruction from the school’s learning resource center.

So about this time every year, when school is knocking on our door and despite the fact that I’m responsible for the chaos, I think that the scheduling stress might actually overwhelm me, tsumani-style.

My kind, reassuring words to parents with fewer children than me vanish, and I can’t quite manage to reclaim them.  It’s as though those words are intangible smoke rising from the inferno of my mad dash toward a reliable fall routine. Yes, I think unsympathetically, you shouldn’t complain about your one child [or four] when I have FIVE. I’ll think the last word with both disbelief and wonder.

I don’t wish to be uncharitable.  And I promise that eventually my head will clear.  I’ll figure out the fall schedule.  We’ll enter a routine.  I’ll stop using dramatic phrases like “smoke rising from the inferno of” anything.

I’ll regain my sympathy for parents with fewer children.  I’ll be back to my supportive, encouraging persona in no time.

Until then, I leave you with this year’s compiled school supplies list (with a special shout-out to my husband, who spent 4 hours inventorying what we already had and another untold # of hours procuring most of the supplies):

Writing/Drawing Implements:

  • 12 mechanical pencils with erasers
  • 62 sharpened No. 2 pencils
  • 6 Black ballpoint pens
  • 6 Blue ballpoint pens – Both Please
  • 6 Red pens
  • 2 boxes Colored pencils, sharpened
  • 2 black Sharpie markers – ultra fine
  • 1 highlighter
  • 2 dry erase pens
  • 2 boxes of short twistable crayons
  • 8 pink pearl erasers
  • 3 sets of water color paints
  • 1 box 16 color set of crayons
  • 1 box of 32 color crayons (no neon)
  • 1 hand pencil sharpener
  • 1 pkg. Crayola WASHABLE broad tip markers
  • 1 pkg. Pencil eraser caps

Paper:

  • 1 pkg, loose leaf paper, college ruled
  • Graph paper

Math:

  • 2 – 12” metric/inch ruler
  • Calculator
  • Compass
  • Protractor (clear, see-through type)

Miscellaneous:

  • 6 pair of Fiskar pointed scissors (for 3 kids? 6 pairs? Really.)
  • 9 boxes facial tissue
  • Small plastic water bottle (optional)
  • Combination lock for your locker, NO KEY, LASER OR ALPHABET LOCKS! CIRCULAR COMBINATION LOCKS RECOMMENDED!
  • 3 sturdy backpacks with zippers

Notebooks/Dividers:

  • 3 spiral notebooks, college ruled, (max 100 Pgs)
  • 3 – 1” 3-ring binder (one with dividers)
  • 5 Folders with 2 pockets on bottom (1 girl, 2 boy, 2 neutral)
  • 1 composition book

Glue:

  • 23 Glue sticks
  • 3 bottles white school glue

Books:

  • NIV Bible

Containers:

  • Pencil pouch to hold protractor, calculator, compass
  • 3 plastic snap school boxes (6”x8” size)
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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
21 comments
  1. Get rid of the math stuff — it will cause nightmares!

    1. That’s why Abby loves you so much. You understand!

  2. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  3. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  4. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  5. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  6. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  7. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  8. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  9. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  10. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  11. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  12. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  13. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  14. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  15. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  16. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

  17. I can’t claim to EVER have had a list even approaching the thoroughness of yours, and my youngest loved finding all the supplies we already had, so I could skip a lot of the madness, but I am rejoicing this year in a) no more IEPs (my special needs kid is in college and doing very well, thank you) and b) no more school supply lists. If she needs kleenex, she’ll pack it herself. Amazing. Just wait until Cael and Cai are in college. Hopefully they’ll be able to shop for themselves. I bet you still won’t be bored though.

    1. Sending you love, Janelle, for giving me hope!

  18. Actually, the cost wasn’t horrific. I think our grand total came in at under $100. That’s due in large part to Greg’s grand home-inventory scheme, though.

    I wish I could’ve videotaped him scrounging for pencils throughout the house… and the periodic updates. “I’ve just exceeded 50 pencils!” And then 5 minutes later, “I’m over 60 pencils!”

    This is why we don’t need drugs… we’re so easily entertained without them.

    Actually, I take that back. I need drugs.

  19. Good Grief that’s a lot of school supplies! What was your grand total (or were you too afraid to add it up?). 🙂

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