After serious consideration, I decided I'd rather give my teenage son a Platinum MasterCard and send him to Walmart on Saturday night than do the Back-to-School shopping myself.
His gym locker is in better shape than the three-ring binder section of Walmart after the list-bearing hordes have swept through. Back-to-school shoppers invade discount stores in August like a swarm of fire ants in a field of sweetgrass, and they're not leaving until they've crossed the last bottle of hand soap off their list and called in their relatives to find the Guardians of the Galaxy lunchbox they hid behind the broccoli display back in June.
Anyone who thinks a mother in search of a pack of Crayolas and a bottle of Elmer's isn't dangerous has never had a kid in 4K. Here's a woman who has visions of getting a toddler-sized tornado out of her kitchen and the Cartoon Network off of her television and there's not a force of nature that can stop her from climbing over two Kleenex displays and a store manager to get that last glue stick.
Don't even get me started about book bags and blue jeans. You'd think that one pair of pants made out of faded blue denim would pretty much be like the ones you found for 10 bucks on the clearance rack at Target. Just because the hem hit mid-ankle and the waistband tucked neatly under his armpits, Teen Boy at my house went all white around the shoetops and refused to have his yearbook picture made.
And when did a backpack become a designer accessory? Today's bags have room for everything except books, which -- according to Son One who is a High School graduate, and therefore an expert in all things -- are optional in the classroom these days. I can understand filmstrips going the way of ancient technology, but books? They take up valuable space needed for everything from cellphones to e-readers. When my kid said he needed a Kindle, I thought we'd reverted to book burnings and I offered to go out to eat and send all my cookbooks to fan the flames.
But the main source of our back-to-school woes is friends. It is a principle of life that a true friend will not buy the very last pair of trendy torn jeans at the mall. Nor will a friend refuse to eat school lunch and choose to hang out at the drink machine after I've shelled out $300 in advance for the pizza line in the cafeteria. Last year I discovered that I was feeding three random boys and the school rabbit, while the only things my child ate off his plate was apple peel and barbecue chips.
This year I have resolve. I will not buy clothes just because the people my child doesn't even like wear them. I will not buy trading cards just because the people my child does like would rather duel than eat lunch. I will not volunteer to chaperone the school dance just so my child can go and eat free pizza.
But if I get free pizza, that's another story. I'll have to buy something cool to wear. Maybe some torn jeans. And a backpack to bring home leftovers. After all, I donated my cookbooks to education.