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An Actual Conversation: In Which my Heart Breaks More Than a Little

September 4, 2013

Like many of you, I have spent the last few weeks gathering up pencils and erasers, moving all of the used-but-good-as-new school supplies into an Easter basket (of all things!) and waiting for the official supply list to arrive.  I waited.  And waited more.  I thought about calling the schools, but then remembered that this is how it seems to be here.  Unlike Wisconsin, where the list for next year was sometimes sent home on the last day of school and was available online and was sent again mid-August, here in Pittsfield it has either come home on the first day of school (Kindergarten) or not at all (First Grade).

As a planner and the mother of two girls who want to have what they need, this has been frustrating.   By the time school starts, we are in full swing with choir rehearsal and church activities.  Even without sports or dance or travel teams, it seems difficult to fit school supply shopping in on any of the evenings of the first week.  The back-to-school sales are over and the folder pickin’s are slim.

After school today, I met Ladybug’s teacher.  We will call her Miss Stacy because I have a feeling she will be that sort of teacher.  For Ladybug and for me.  I just know it.  As Ladybug brandished her folder – I REMEMBERED TO BRING HOME MY FOLDER! – Miss Stacy laughingly assured me there wasn’t much to do tonight.  “There is just one piece for you to fill out.  The student information sheet.”

No supply list?  “The lack of school supply lists here is baffling to me,” I bravely began. “We are relatively new to the area and I’m not used to it.  Why does that happen here?”

Miss Stacy took a deep breath.  And thought for a minute.  She seemed to decide that it was ok to continue the conversation.  “It’s just that… Well, in this neighborhood…  Most of our families aren’t able to provide them so we do the best we can and if you could just send lots of tissues…  If you can.  Tissues would help a great deal.”

As I’ve written before, compulsory education is relatively new in our society and it is likely not working the way it was intended.  Still, taking good kids and good parents out of the system will not help it get better.  That is a large part of the reason we choose to stay.  It is not the right choice for everyone.  Regardless of your feelings on public education, it is the only chance some kids get right now.  Not able to provide pencils and erasers and rulers and…it hurts my heart to think about it.

“We can send tissues,” I managed to answer without my voice trembling too much.  “If you think of anything else you need, please let us know.  We may be able to help.”

Miss Stacy set her jaw a little tightly, but still smiled, her eyes as full as mine.  She smiled.  “Thank you.”

2013-09-04 07.36.27

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2013 3:20 pm

    I had an experience on the other end of the spectrum. Aeryn started Kindergarten today. A couple weeks ago we received a supply list. I had heard about these lists being long and very specific. Those folks weren’t kidding. I was surprised at some of the items on the list. Some of these included one box quart size and one box gallon size Ziplock bags, three eight count boxes of Crayola crayons, a pair of scissor – preferably fiskars for kids, paper towels, napkins, a four pack of Play Doh and eight ounce paper cups. There were also optional items families could donate to help the class – baby wipes, white paper plates and small brown paper lunch bags. My teacher friends tell me that this is the teachers way of dealing with all the budget cuts. Items that used to be taken for granted such as paper towels and facial tissues are no longer in the budget. Luckily, most of the stores are familiar with these lists and stock accordingly even though some districts send theirs out pretty late. We were able to do all our shopping in one place. In all it took about half an hour and, after accounting for items we had at home, about fifty dollars.

    My bigger frustration in an attempt at preparedness, was the lack of bussing and cafeteria information. The bus driver called us last week and left a message telling us when she would be by to get the Kindergarteners on the first day. If I did not have neighbors with older children, I would still not know what time to catch the bus on a regular day. After hunting down the school’s website, I learned that our district utilizes myschoolbucks .com where your child can have an account or you can send cash. I tried to set up Aeryn’s account a week ago and got all the way to through the registration only to find that I can’t add her to the account until I have her nine digit student ID number. That is not provided on any paperwork either before school or on the first day. You have to call the cafeteria to get it.

    I think I have it all down now, but I’m not going to relax for a week or two. Today wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined it would be, but I got to ride the bus with Aeryn and hang out a little. Tomorrow she does it all on her own. Sniff.

    • September 5, 2013 7:27 pm

      Wisconsin was a little like that. I remember having to write names on every single crayon and marker. That part was annoying, but I liked having the list early. I liked knowing that the school was provided for and that I was a part of the providing. This just feels harder.

      How are you holding up during week one?

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