Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Paper, Pencils and Playing Cards

So, here's the thing...

Yesterday after work, I stopped in at the dollar store at Shoregate to pick up some Diet Coke. I don't know if it's called "The Dollar Store", so I apologize if that's wrong.  There are many "dollar" chains around town, and I can't keep track of what any of them are called.  So, going forward, maybe I should use fictional names so I don't appear to be favoring or excluding anybody.

Anyway, I had run out of pop during the day and figured I had only hours left to live without it.  I'd hate to miss autumn; it's one of my favorite seasons. So... I needed to buy some more fertilizer for my next kidney stone.  Where to go?  Dollar Genie was my best option. The grocery store --  a few hundred feet away -- was simply too far to drive.  And, once inside, there were going to be far too many people with kids trying to buy healthy, over-processed wheat bread, peanut butter, jelly, pencils and snot rags for the first day of school (which is today at Willoughby-Eastlake). 

So, forget the Giant Eagle ... I would just run into the Dollar Desert, grab my poison and get out. 

And, for a change, that's all I carried up to the register ... an 8-pack and four dollars.  Usually I take time to browse a little and buy half of what's on sale, but I could already feel my hands shaking from the withdrawal. I hadn't had a Coke since 3 o'clock.  I needed to go home and drink. 

I was in line behind a nice lady and her daughter.  The daughter -- who I'll call Roberta* -- asked the clerk, "Where are your debit cards?"

Actually .. she didn't say "debit cards."  That's just what I heard because I was probably thinking about mine.  What she said was, "Where are your deck of cards?"

This girl looked to be about 10 years old. 

And she was asking for them in FRONT OF HER MOTHER? I was thinking, "Geez, kid, don't you know anything?  Hide your vices from parents!  Never let them know you're a drunk, a drug addict or a compulsive gambler!  Honestly ... these kids are simply not being taught properly anymore.  Shame on these lazy parents.  Why raise your child to be a degenerate if you don't learn 'em to cover it up?

But Roberta, or Nancy, or Debbie, or whatever her name was kept asking for playing cards.

The nice clerk pointed her around the corner.  "They're hanging there."

The child plucked a cellophane-wrapped deck of Hoyle off the peg board and asked, "These?"

Mom looked a bit confused.  "Are you sure that's what you need?"

And the clerk said, "Oh yes, my kid's in the same grade.  That's what they want." 

I heard all this, and figured my withdrawal had gone into overdrive and the hallucinations were starting.  Playing cards?  What were these schools doing ... teaching these kids poker or blackjack in case the economy never improves and the casino's their only hope?

So, after I left the Dollar Demon** and drove home, where I guzzled down a 20-ounce and started feeling better***, I visited Royalview Elementary's website and checked out some of school supply lists.

Here's the one with the PLAYING CARDS.

Note...I have not altered (altared?) this list in ANY way.  I copied.  I pasted.  And then I shook my head and cried:

ROYALVIEW  ELEMENTARY  SCHOOL Supply  List  2013-2014 
Fourth Grade 
Please label all supplies

 2” 3 ring binder
1 green two-pocket folder (NO PRONGS)
1 blue two-pocket folder (NO PRONGS)
1 red two-pocket folder (NO PRONGS)
1 yellow two-pocket folder (NO PRONGS)
1 white glue (liquid) 8oz. size 
2 marking pens
1 box Crayola magic markers – small tip (8-12 count only)
1 highlighter
2 large boxes of Kleenex 
24 pencils #2 
large pencil eraser
1 pair scissors –
medium sized 1 box of crayons - not more than 48 count
2 spiral notebooks – one subject only
1 deck of playing cards 
1 package of Clorox Clean-Up Wipes (Please stick with Clorox brand)
6-8 dry erase markers– small tip
1 sock
2 glue sticks
1 mini pencil sharpener (no battery operated)
1 small package of post-it notes
Last names (A-L) sandwich size Ziploc bags
(M-Z) gallon size Ziploc bags
1 bottle of hand sanitizer (no larger than 12 fl.oz.)
*Please do not send in items not listed due to lack of space, including pencil cases or bags. 
*If in Mrs. Goodrich’s class, please see her supply list posted for the looping class.

Okay, so... um .... where do I start here?  Several questions come to mind.  May I share them with you?

1)  What is this irrational hatred toward PRONGS?  What is so terrible about a prong?****  Aren't they those little metal thingies that kinda hold the paper inside the folder?  They're tiny ... they're barely noticeable .. they fly under the radar.  What, did some kid somewhere accidentally fall asleep and puncture an eyeball?  I feel sad for the prongs.  They deserve better.  And... okay ... why do the file folders have to be specific colors?  Back in MY DAY (warning - I'm going to say that a LOT), teachers couldn't give a rat's behind if they were red, green, blue or psychedelic orange.  They were just thrilled we remembered to bring them. 

2) I think it's cute that elementary aged kids are required to bring highlighters. Highlighters did exist when I was a child... they were invented in 1962 (which was also when I was invented).  But highlighters were something used in offices or possibly in high school.  Back in MY DAY at Royalview, if you wanted to "highlight" something, you used a crayon, a pen or you folded down the corner of the page.  In the end, we weren't really encouraged to highlight things, because that meant marking up a book that we were supposed to give back at the end of the year. We also used a little-known learning device known as "taking notes," which meant writing down important stuff that might end up on a test. 

3) I want to understand the count limit on markers and crayons here.  I really do want to understand. Really.  Because, back in MY DAY, we weren't required to bring markers - they were optional.  We were required to bring crayons, but again, there was no Crayon Police checking the number of crayons or how thick they were or what brand they were.  Frankly, variety is good for kids ... it teaches them which kids' parents have more money than everybody else's. My birthday is in late August, so as a child I always got school supplies as gifts.  One year somebody gave me a Crayola Box of 64 and I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  I was a BIG SHOT at school because I had the BIG HONKIN' BOX OF CRAYONS with the colors nobody had ever heard of, like "burnt sienna" or "peach" (which used to be "flesh" but was renamed in 1962 because of the Civil Rights Movement). Those poor kids with their measly 32-count boxes could all bite me. 

Sure, later it was those same kids taunting me on the playground, but at least I had my memories.

So now, our education system wants to deprive children of those rare, fleeting moments when they can feel superior to everybody else.  I think that's just so wrong. 

4)  Why do these kids need their own pencil sharpeners?  Back in MY DAY every classroom had its own crappy, dull-bladed metal pencil sharpener that destroyed our pencils.  But...the cranking noise was a welcome distraction during tests. 

5) What's with all the Kleenex and hand-sanitizer?  How filthy and unhealthy ARE today's youth?  Back in MY DAY, if we needed Kleenex, we excused ourselves, went to the lavatory and used toilet paper (or got some Puffs from the nice teacher who may have had some on her desk).  Or, if we were THAT sick, we stayed home with Mom so as not to infect the rest of the class.  And, wouldn't one think that if the kids are required to have hand sanitizer, they wouldn't NEED the Kleenex?  And what's with the Clorox wipes - NO off brand here - CLOROX wipes?  Again ... how fragile are these children that they must decontaminate every single thing they touch? 

Back in MY DAY, there were no wipes beyond those coarse brown paper towels in the bathroom, and our "hand sanitizer" was that stuff -- also in the bathroom -- known as "soap."  When I remember how dirty we got during recess ... all the booger fights ... and how some poor child barfed up her tator tots at least twice a week .. it's a wonder I'm sitting here writing this blog.  How did I ever survive all the contagion? 

And finally ...

Ziploc bags?  The other bags aren't allowed, but the Ziplocs are okay? 

Half the class has to bring little ones.
Half the class has to bring big ones. 
What, exactly, are they bagging?
Uneaten food?
Insects for science class?  
Something they can sell at recess to pay for all these school supplies?

*I went to school with a girl named Roberta.  We were best friends in Mrs. Blackstone's fourth grade glass.  In seventh grade, however, she literally tried to strangle me during band class, which was kinda messed up... so we stopped being friends after that.  Actually ... Roberta was nuts, and this little girl in line seemed nice, so forget Roberta, I'll call her "Nancy."  I had lots of friends named "Nancy." 

**Who are they kidding?  There's nothing in those stores that costs an actual DOLLAR.

***I really need to figure out why I'm not sleeping well.

****Of course, I'm not really thinking about prongs, I'm thinking about prawns and that lovely shrimp dinner I had over at the Red Lobster on Saturday.


  1. Just posting a follow-up comment ...

    One of my colleagues (who also went to Royalview Elementary and was in my class) reminded me of how we were all required to bring in a desk cover, watercolor paints and one of our dad's old shirts to wear for art class.

    It's strange how some things come right back to you...just as I was typing that sentence, that heavy, sweet, comforting odor of tempera paint filled my memory. :-)

    Also, I remember how we were required to provide book covers for our books. Most of us didn't have money to buy them from the store, so we made them out of brown paper bags. The best part about using those is we could decorate them any way we liked. I spent most of my time in math and science writing horrible poetry, drawing hearts and flowers and practicing my autograph for when I'd be rich and famous.

    I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only old lady who gets nostalgia for her old school days at this time of year!