Spare some change?

photo courtesy of


It’s the same every August.  My husband finds me in our closet emptying all the loose change out of the purses I have used throughout the year.

“Back to school shopping?” he asks.

“Yes.  Once again, it’s depleted the budget.  Do me a favor and check underneath the seats in the car.  I’m looking for another ten dollars and then we have the electric paid.”

It’s so tiring.

When did our back-to-school budget exceed our Christmas budget?  I know this confirms I’m old, but on my first day of school, I brought a new pencil and a shiny red apple to class. But somewhere along the line, things changed.  School budgets depleted, we became fearful of germs and parents had to supply a small pharmacy for the classrooms as well as disposable cameras, USB ports, calculators, sharpies, red pens for correcting, binders, college lined notebook paper, four dozen sharpened pencils, and I haven’t even touched the miscellaneous items needed that each teacher requires. The list is longer than my grocery list.

It was on my third trip to Office Depot that I lost all patience.  I was no longer being the nice parent that wanted to instill happy memories of back-to- school shopping.  I just wanted to get out of there.  I met a mother who felt the same way.  She was clutching the shopping cart much as I was and she wasn’t happy.  We were two kindred souls. She looked at me and with one eye on her child she shook her head:

“Apparently, we did not purchase the “cool” folders and the “cool” pencils,”  she sighed.

I smiled and nodded.  “I made the mistake of sending my husband here the first time,” I replied.

She shook her head and glanced over at a young mother giggling happily with her young daughter as they debated which crayons to choose.

“A rookie,”  she commented.

I agreed.  I remember a time long ago when my children couldn’t read and their opinions carried little weight.  Those were the days I parked them in front of the lunch boxes and finished my school shopping in under five minutes.  Today, every purchase is analyzed, double-checked, questioned and pondered until I want to shout, “It’s a pencil for heaven’s sake!”

But with the exception of my checking account, we all survived.   I told my children that if they needed anything else I would wrap a bow around it and tell them it was a Christmas gift.  No one wants a stapler in their stocking so I doubt I will be headed back for supplies in the near future.  Which is perfect, because it gives me enough time to discover more loose change for the holidays.