Sunday, August 31, 2014

Back to School with the Stooges

He plunked himself down in the middle of the aisle, and, sitting criss-cross-applesauce, scowled at his choices.

I considered going boneless myself, flopping down alongside him, and complaining bitterly about how boring this is for me. But I don't think my son would catch the irony.

After all, back-to-school shopping is FUN for him. It's a treasure hunt.

For me, it's just a puzzle wrapped in chains and buried in a box under sand and rotting fish.

I'm not sure how long we've been in this store, but the school supply list seems as long (and as complicated) as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Just holding it in my hand gives me The Chills.

In fact, I think I might hyperventilate.

“How many stores WILL I have to go through before I find a sling-style backpack and rainbow pocket folders with prongs?”

Don't answer that! I prefer to live in denial.

“This is not a 'FINE LINE MARKER',” he pouts as I pulled a package of felt-tipped pens off the display hook and tossed it into our cart. It says: 'M-E-D-I-U-M.' Medium is not fine.”

He picks the offending item out of the cart and puts in back on the display rack.

“Medium is fine,” I say, retrieving it and throwing it back into the cart.

“No. Medium is not fine. Medium is medium. Fine is fine.”

Back to the display.

“Well, since they only have Medium and Bold, Medium, in this instance, is Fine.”

Back to the cart.

“Medium is definitely not Fine,” he mutters.


“Well, you may be right,” I hiss, taking the package from the display and holding it over the cart. “Medium may not be Fine, but I'm not going to another store, so Medium will have to be Good Enough.”

He tears the package from my hand and flops it into the cart.


Stubborn. Just like his mother.

“What's next?” He asks cheerily. “Oh … folders!”

“Thissssssss,” I said out loud, “is going to take forrrrrrrrrrrrrrevah.”

I envy people who say they can't take their kids to the store because they want everything they see. My children can never decide on a single thing.

Two aisles over, I can hear my daughter pawing through a box of rulers. She's looking for one that is metric.

“Nope,” I hear her say, and then a clatter of hard plastic cascading upon more hard plastic. “Ugh … they are all in 'ins and cms'. Whatever cms are … I think they must mean outs … ins and outs.”

I want to slap my forehead as I dash over to her.

I am Abbot …

And my kids are Costello.

I clear my throat and stage whisper.

“Ins is short for INCHES and CMs are CENTIMETERS -- a metric measurement.”

“Ohhhhhh, riiiiiight!” she says with false embarrassment, and in a false English accent she picked up from watching Minecraft videos on the internet all summer instead or reading books or practicing mathematics. “How silly of me.”

“Can we hurry this up? I have to go home at hit myself in the head with a mallet.”

“I thought you said we were like Abbott and Costello,” she said with a grin.

“Nope … pretty sure we're all just Stooges.”

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