Kindergarten. Appearing as adorable tiny tots to those who have been there, done that, and a momentous milestone for parents who once thought they’d have to grant NICU privileges to a high school math tutor.
No longer in daycare or preschool. This is the show. This is elementary school.
Because of the gravitas of importance involved, we eschewed technological ordering advantages and decided to hit the ground running – we approached the brick and mortar Target store in person.
Oh, the humanity!
I mean that quite literally.
Beneath a coffin-sized pencil comic cutout, haloed by flickering fluorescent lights, the arrow (that was the tip of the pencil) proclaimed, “BACK TO SCHOOL SUPPLIES!” And congregated within this pre-September section comprising of a mere five aisles, it appeared, was the entire population of Northern California.
I had thought perhaps starting school so early in August would preclude the rush.
I thought wrong.
I stood, Search and Destroy at my side, staring down the impending cage match – mentally preparing how to accomplish the objectives of my challenge:
- Breech the scrum.
- Procure backpacks and lunch bags.
- Obtain all on the supply list.
- 3 boxes Crayola Crayons, 24 count
- 1 Sanford Magic Rub Eraser
- 6 Elmer’s disappearing purple 0.77 oz. glue sticks
- 1 bottle antibacterial hand sanitizer
- 1 Fiskars Safety Edge Blunt Tip Kids Scissors
- Exit with all alive.
Before me were rows of backpacks – traditional Jansport in solid colors, paisleys and patterned; character bags featuring My Little Pony, Dora, Frozen, Spiderman, Ninja Turtles, and Jurassic Park. Insulated lunch bags lined the lower shelves – leaping out at passing consumers with all the primary or pastel colors any character you can imagine could conjure.
Pencils, pens, markers, and crayons hung from racks. Glue sticks and erasers filled clearance bins. Notebooks were stacked neatly, all of varying design, line rule, and subject dividers. Up&Up, Crayola, Mr. Sketch, Ticonderoga, Bic, PaperMate, Pentel, Xhilaration, Mead, Yoobi, and Elmers. All seemingly, “today only- extra 10% off select school supplies using Store Pickup.”
The masses milled about this 20×20-foot wrestling ring. Parents, children, siblings. Aunts, uncles, cousins. A one-time baby sitter, anarchists, and a MMA fighter. Everyone had arrived to buy supplies.
And everyone had arrived with their own specialized list, requiring specific brands, while the school children practices their playground voices by loudly proclaiming their color/style preference. (A few of the younger set simply shouted “ECHO” at the top of their lungs to see how far sound waves would reverberate off the concrete walls.)
I suspect some of the extended families were employing the stealth tactic of sending youth to aimlessly wander and otherwise distract savvy shoppers from scooping up the last of a listed supply.
It was an obstacle course that would make even the fiercest American Ninja Warrior cringe.
At one point Destroy walked beside me, clutching his newly claimed R2D2 lunch bag. (Because what kindergarten teacher wouldn’t jump with joy to have all her students carrying blinking and beeping bags.)
A man called out through the crowd, “Where did you find that bag?! This is the second store we’ve been to.”
“Aisle 32, bottom shelf,” we replied, mumbling that it was likely the last one. All the while I scoped out potential exit routes and escape paths should mob mentality take over.
We were almost successful in our quest. But apparently Target does not carry Sanford brand.
There is something to be said for giving my children their first Back to School shopping experience. The something to be said should we attempt round 2 at a different store in search of apparently magical erasers involves words not appropriate for a family story.
To the Amazon!
New gear, new supplies, and new clothes. Search and Destroy were ready for the next chapter.
Emotions were vastly different on actually attending the new school. But hopefully the Hunger Games of Back to School supply shopping have readied them for any adventure they face in the future.