Need any school supplies?
The question was directed to a 20-year-old heading into his third year of college.
“No, I’m good,” Jack said.
That’s code for, “Maybe, but I’m not going to think about that a full three weeks before school starts.”
It was just as well. These days, all I need to do is add money to his debit card. He’d rather do it himself anyway, which is fine with me. Part of me though, does miss the days we would venture to the local discount store with lists needing 83 items. That was the actual count one year between the two boys.
Still, I miss those days of pushing a cart down skinny aisles brimming with crayons and searching for such items as “low-odor” dry erase markers, Uniball pens and colored pencils. One year, I remember buying two, eight-pocket folders; eight, two-pocket folders; and four, two-pocket folders with prongs.
Still not sure if 40 pockets of organization helped, but both boys are successfully navigating college, so they must have picked up some coordination skills.
Can’t imagine what it’s like now, but I know school shopping has changed in 10 years. Today, you can punch your ZIP code into the website of a national discount chain, and a list of area schools – with needed supply lists – appears on the computer. You can check all the boxes and either have the package shipped to your home or pick it up on your next trip.
But there are still holdouts.
“I am not a fan of that online stuff,” said Nancy Gilstrap, mother of three girls, Sam, 20; Molly, 19; and Mia, 11, who starts sixth grade Tuesday. “I know some moms who shop that way, but I’m still a bargain hunter. I’m like, ‘How much is that again?’”
Nancy is one of those “seasoned” moms who’s been around the schoolyard a decade or two.
“It’s OK, you can call me old,” she said. “I’ve learned to let go. With my older girls, I would follow the list, buy in bulk and check everything off.”
“I really didn’t look at the list until you called,” she said. “I told Mia she owns it. She is so excited for middle school she started checking things off in May. Plus, I’m not that tech savvy. They need things like Chromebook covers now. I’m not sure I know what a Chromebook looks like.”
I met Nancy in 2002, the year Sam and Jack were in kindergarten.
“You wouldn’t believe how much the school has changed,” she said. “Every administrative thing is online. And school moms have Pinterest now.
Nevertheless, Nancy persists.
“On a lot of things, I’ve learned to let go, let go, let go,” she said.