With the kids heading back to school, I can hear both the cheers and the groans. The one ray of light that provides some comfort to the wee ones, is the notion that they get to go shopping and the parents really have no choice. I remember my children’s excitement as we entered the aisle of dreams; school supplies etc. They would spend what seemed like hours, mulling over which pen writes best, which booklet will have enough pockets and so on. I, on the other hand, stood silent counting, counting and adding the toll in my head.
As a child myself, my parents were usually in for about $20.00 worth which would include a few notebooks, pens, pencils, a math set and maybe a binder if I really needed it. The rest of our supplies came directly from the school.
That is not the case today. With budget cuts all over, and depending on what municipality you live in, the price tag is fairly steep. Now my children bring home a typed out (double sided) detailed list of all the items that are absolutely necessary for my child’s scholarly success. The responsibility seems to have fallen on the parents for all writing equipment, all notebooks and binders, and a multitude of very specific tools for each class. Add in the fees required for any special events, outings, memberships.
I have easily spent upwards of $75.00 per child for these items alone. Keep in mind that all fees are gathered within the first week of school so be prepared! Now let’s discuss the back to school clothes shopping! We simply cannot return to school in the same outfits from last year. Even though they may fit just fine, it is embarrassing to appear in last year’s fashion. So let’s add on to our ever-growing shopping list that is taking away from our ever-shrinking wallet. Just a few new outfits and we are closer to $200.00 per child and that is a conservative amount.
My takeaway from this is that if you happen to have the means to supply everything requested for your children, then you are one of the lucky ones. I was a single mother on a tight budget raising four children alone. The financial burdens fell directly on my shoulders and therefore I was the one who had to look into my children’s faces when I had to say no, we cannot afford this. We skimped where we could and made do. Some years the “new” clothes were hand-me-downs from their cousins. I have to say that while my children were obviously disappointed, they did not show it to me. I only heard “That’s ok mom. I understand”.
So if you fall in that same category, take a deep breath and know that you are doing your best. At the moment it feels like the end of the world and your guilt overwhelms you, but this too shall pass. Many years later and my children only remember that mom was always there for them no matter what. They have no recollection of what color pens they used.
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