It’s that time of year again...back to school.
My Target Cartwheel app has been pinging happily with sales for weeks.
I have four kiddos heading to school full time this year. From kindergarten to sixth grade, all my packets showed up to help get these kids of mine ready for the big day. I printed the school supply lists and blinked at the immense task ahead of me. Four lists. Four sets of pencils, erasers, folders and all the notebooks. Things were about to get crazy. And expensive.
Nevertheless, it had to be done.
We trekked over to our local Target, grabbed a cart and headed directly back to the school supply section. Knowing this would be a pricey trip, I sternly told the children we would focus only on what was necessary. They nodded their little heads, promising best behavior.
Tranquility and diplomacy lasted until the crayon bins were in sight. Things took a turn for the chaotic when they spotted all the different folder designs. The baby caught our eagerness and started babbling at the top of his lungs. Not in an angry way, mind you. Just loudly. And constantly.
Still filled with stubborn determination — I mean, we had traipsed all the way back here after all — I handed my older girls their lists and grabbed the second grader and kindergartner.
What was supposed to be a divide and conquer tactic turned into four overly-enthusiastic children all talking and shouting at once. Shouting over the baby who was still making all manner of loud noises.
The kindergartner lost interest in school supplies immediately. He has no interest in going to school at all, so buying pencils and specific erasers was not something he had patience for. He quickly entered a competition with the baby to see who could make the weirdest, loudest noise possible. They found each other hilarious, which only added to the nonsense.
The second-grader hung on for a little while longer, but after his crayons had been carted, he decided it was the perfect opportunity to practice his ninja skills. All over Target.
Then all three boys banded together. School supply shopping soon turned into a manic workout while I tried to keep one hand on the cart to keep the baby safe while the other two boys tried to run off with it. And to top it off, all three of them were giggling like wild maniacs.
The girls soon returned with their finds, dumping them in the cart haphazardly. I didn’t have enough sense to pay attention until everything was loaded in one big, heaping pile of mess. I couldn’t tell what they’d picked up or if they’d gotten the right amount of folders. Or if I even cared anymore.
By the time we got to the checkout, I had sprouted at least ten more gray hairs and sworn off shopping and outings and children forever and ever amen.
I decided to check off lists as I loaded things onto the conveyor belt. The children scattered immediately. I’d mistakenly told them that if they were good, they could pick up perler beads. This left me scrambling for help when I realized we were missing several things on the list. Thankfully, Target employees came to the rescue and, while they might have been over enthusiastic with their number of note cards, they at least helped me finish the dreaded lists.
To be honest, I’m not sure if the supplies we picked up are the ones we really needed. But personally, I can hardly tell the difference between college-rule and wide-rule paper anyway. The point is, it’s done! I survived. Target might ask us never to return, but somehow, we conquered back to school shopping for four kids with a baby in tow, and that’s the best I could hope for.
Rachel Higginson is a married mom to five kids. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has received a Utopia Award for Best Contemporary Romance and Penned Con Award for Best Novella Series. She lives in Omaha.