I know it’s a huge headache for those in the thick of it, but I’ve always enjoyed people watching at stores like Target and Wal-Mart when parents take their kids back to school shopping. All those years ago back when I went with my mother, I always got the off brand Lisa Frank notebooks if Mom would let me. Or the year I got a cool silver, psychedelic, holographic 3 ring binder. Classic. Seems like now the choices are the same but different.
But that’s not what interests me. I enjoy seeing the parents and the children interact. You never see the struggle of the parent-child relationship more clearly than when a father is arguing with his pre-teen daughter in the backpack aisle. Last year’s backpack is still perfectly usable, why not just use that again this year? But the daughter will be the ONLY one without a new backpack!
Is it strange that I want that? I want to have a surly tween son who really doesn’t want to have to try on new pants or get a haircut. And I want a know-it-all daughter who insists on buying shorts two sizes too small and entirely too short. Or vice versa. I want to pour over a back to school list from the 6th grade teacher and wonder if my child can use a mechanical pencil or does it have to be a plain #2 and just where you can find alcohol free hand sanitizer.
Arguments about when it’s OK to start wearing makeup or how much is too much product in his or her hair. Piercings- how many, when and where on the body? When to start wearing deodorant. And dating!!!! ACK! Extra curricular activities after school- sports, musical instrument, or something else. Grades and tests. Blank paper and practicing handwriting. LONG DIVISION!
School plays. Recitals. PTA meetings. Finding out my child is a bully or is being bullied. First loves. Birthday parties with invitations. Handing out Valentine’s cards to every kid in class. School picture day. First day of school. Last day of school. Growing pains. Hanging art projects on the refrigerator. Working on school projects complete with poster board displays. Science fairs. Math tests.
When I walk past the school supplies aisle, all of this runs through my mind. And I smirk. And I sigh. So I know all the parents out there are probably ruing the day they have to take the kids to the department store for rulers and protractors. They think about how fast their kids grow out of their shoes and how last year’s jeans are probably too short. But I think about how much I’d like to be in their place.