From Where I Sit – Beware the Barn

It’s probably easier for me to get excited about back to school season because I don’t have to buy shoes, clothes, and school supplies for anyone. When I wander the special displays of stationery I can cherry-pick a few items for my own use and reminisce about the rest. I can avoid the $12 three-ring binders because I know that the price is insane. There is no one whining, begging, or guilting me into buckling under the pressure.

I can grab a few packages of lined refill sheets for 25 cents each because I use them in my project binders. If I needed a new ruler, now would be the time to buy it; there are plastic, wooden, and metal to choose from. I’m not sure if the scented ones are still available, but do we really need another product with off-gases?

This is also a good time to buy subject notebooks. I scored five?one of each colour?of Hilroy’s 80-page ones for 15 cents each. We use one by the main telephone to keep a log of incoming and outgoing calls. I use others for specific projects. Of course there are three-subject notebooks and ones with fancy covers or brand names; expect to pay more, much more, for those.

There are also huge selections of backpacks and lunch kits. I bought myself the coolest purple and black quilted insulated lunch bag for those days when I’m away from home. It looks more like a purse than a lunch bag. There’s room for a couple of ice packs, a zip-lock bag of veggies, a piece of fruit, a snack bar, and a frozen entree.

A far cry from the old metal barn-shaped one I had in grade three. The roof part held the Thermos bottle. The humiliation of it all! I can’t remember what the cool girls had that year, but I guarantee it wasn’t a barn. What is the price of fitting in? Thank goodness Grady takes a Cars one to daycare. Mind you, a two?year-old isn’t likely to lobby and plead for what ?all the other kids have.?

When does the green-eyed monster rear its ugly head? At this age Grady has no idea whether he’s wearing Nike or Puma shoes and Quiksilver t-shirts. Enjoy it while it lasts, parents, because before long he’ll be driving the buying decisions.

And maybe for parents That’s the crux of the whole matter. Pick your battles. Buy only what you can afford. Teach your children about value, doing without, and the need to compromise. don’t allow yourself to be bullied into buying things without value or things that are outrageously priced because of the hot-this-minute movie star or cartoon character emblazoned on them. But splurge on something so the kid feels good and fits in.

When You’re shopping this fall, remember my barn lunch kit. Save on the basics like refills and notebooks, and then get one really cool item. Your kids will thank you, from where I sit.

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