I knew it was coming: The letter that would send me off the deep end.
When it arrived, I could tell by its thickness that the legal-sized envelope contained a brewing storm of discontent.
Even my husband, who normally opens only those things addressed to him that he believes contain payment for services rendered, couldn’t wait until Ittybit got home to tear open the missive and see which Kindergarten teacher she wrangled.
He called me immediately. "Well … Ittybit’s teacher is …" he said over the phone at mid-day. He sounded disappointed after saying the name. "Do you remember her?"
He was hoping she’d get a teacher we knew from the community or one recommended by a friend. But neither of us wanted to be "THAT PARENT," the one with the squeaky wheels, always needing grease.
"I’m sure it will be fine," I said, believing our first born could charm a snake if she needed to. Not that I’d want to make that comparison with respect to a teacher of five-year-olds. Or would I?
When I got home and thumbed through the brightly colored pages filled with welcoming words and informative warnings, it was the light pink sheet with its tiny print that made the hair rise on the back of my neck.
I’d expected that, too.
I have enough friends with school-aged children to know budget cuts have meant parents shell out for all sorts of items that, when they were in school, used to be procured through purchasing departments things such as art paper and tissues, art supplies and in some cases cleaning products and disinfectants.
For years, frazzled families have told me all sorts of stories – using teachers’ names in vain – detailing how they’d nearly driven themselves to the edge of insanity trying to procure all the name-brand supplies, which inflate the over-all price of the Back-to-School shopping spree by 20 to 30 percent, listed on their supply sheets.
I also know that parents who stray from list find the offending brands sent back home with a note of derision.
When the following items:
n Kleenex (no lotion or perfumes)
n Crayola Twistable Crayons
n Crayola Washable Markers
n ZipLoc Gallon-sized bags
n Expo brand dry erase markers
n Elmer’s glue sticks
n Fiskars scissors (blunt)
n and Dixie Cups
were specified on our supply list, I can’t say I was surprised. But I was still disappointed.
"Tell me again," I asked my friend, who is now in her last years of public school procurement, "why do teachers demand Fiskar scissors and Ziploc bags? Why do they want Mead binders and Kleenex brand tissues? Why do they specify Elmer’s glue sticks? I mean, I must have two boxes of generic glue sticks that are probably made by Elmer’s but sold to companies who sell them with a different label anyway …"
She just looked at me with a pained expression and told me the same thing my husband said …
"Oh, you are going to have such a hard time with school, aren’t you?"
I know, I know, I know … I’ve been saying it all along. Ittybit will be brilliant and I will be bucking the norms.
I’m going to be that mother who sends generic tissues and glue and baggies … the one who sends her kid to school with generic glue and no-name dry erase markers, poised for battle.
Now, I understand the arguments that teachers have preferences, that students having the same tools lessens jealousy and other boneheaded (excuse me) reasons for brand uniformity but in public school, where uniforms have been fought tooth and nail, it just seems disingenuous.
Perhaps a more plausible explanation is that teachers are testing parents trying to learn early on which ones will be compliant and which ones are destined to roil the waters.
"Wait until she gets to high school," my friend laughs. "You are going to need a lifejacket."