Pomme Agaçante

So, it’s August. Already. And how do I know? Simple: store displays of school supplies. Now, before I continue, I’d like to alert kiddos in middle school and younger not to read this. Why? I don’t want to stress you out about school! Try to enjoy your summer! Okay, cool. Read on and enjoy, teens and adults.

Thanks to big office supply and grocery stores, kids across the nation are forced to face the cold hard reality that another summer of blissful freedom and fun shall soon draw to an end. Though to be fair, these kiddos are exposed to this idea in July. It’s hard for kids to be innocent and happy when the weight of school “drawing near” is dragging down those little sandaled feet.

But, have no fear! These stores are here to prepare one physically—not mentally because how else would they market so much if they didn’t pry on the fear and insecurity a child and parent feel—with a barrage of folders, binders, endless sheets of looseleaf paper that may never see use, pencils that invariably get lost, and emotional support plushies.

It’s true one must research the market to find the best place to find these goods. And with online shopping and many other suppliers, it’s hard to choose. There are selections of office supply stores and grocery superstores, as well as local stores.

So, which one to go to? Well, as a hardened veteran of school shopping, I can give you the inside scoop.

In terms of a multitude of school supplies to choose from, office supply stores have you covered with top-of-the-line backpacks, folders/notebooks with slick designs, endless pens and pencils for that pesky teacher who wants ridiculously specific writing utensils, and an amazing selection of art supplies. If you want peace of mind as you shop, this is the place for you. Office supply stores emanate a purposeful professional vibe with plenty of space, except for the long line for one cashier open. Yet, if you’re looking to save money…good luck with that one.

The grocery superstores are a tried-and-true supplier of many school products, but these stores have some downfalls.

Good luck with the selection. Scarcity and surplus aren’t just terms kids will learn in biology. Nope, it’s a concept they can learn early, often at the risk of a temper tantrum.

Sure there are four sections of supplies, but they’re close together. Parents have to not only navigate a crowd only armed with a big shopping cart, a reluctant but picky child or two, a wallet that may cry, a scavenger (school supply) list, and waning patience, but must do so amongst kindred spirits with the same objective. Sure, that could result in looks of understanding and helpful collaboration. But we all know the grocery superstore ideology: find something and get out because life’s too short.

What does a grocery superstore have over an office supply store?

Price. Yeah, I said a parent’s wallet may cry, but it’s like a few tears versus the sobbing a wallet would do at a fancy office supply store.

Bribes for wailing kids to quiet down and come to grips with the fact that, no, they can’t have that folder and it won’t make them popular and happy.

Items for adults to get through the entire ordeal? Tylenol, candy bars, and a coffee. In-store Auntie Anne’s and Subway. Need I say more?

As for anyone free of the burden of school shopping, displays are impactful as well. Students feel dread and anxiety, parents feel a headache coming on, and others feel nostalgia with a pang of sadness and jealousy. Ah, to be young again and worry about notebook color over nearsightedness or expiration dates. Creativity has drained from office supplies. Maybe it’s time for a change. Picture this: a new line of briefcases, ranging from glittery cats to robots to rainbows to dinosaurs, coupled with functionality. Pens with emotive faces, pastel memo pads, and bright pink or blue mouses/keyboards gracing drab offices everywhere. Maybe it would make the Monday grind better, especially if the coffee machine had a smiling kitty saying “You can do it!”

There are some positives that come from school shopping. Seeing the innovations of supply makers (baby shark backpack, anyone?) and a bit of excitement or memories, comes to mind. But best of all? Lunchbox snacks are front and center in the food section. Admit it, we all love Lil’ Debbie for their never-changing oatmeal pies and cosmic brownies. The chip multipacks make the commitment to one chip bag less of a conundrum! Fruit Roll up, anyone? And there’s nothing wrong with everyone getting these tasty foods. Everyone needs a boost of glucose and endorphins at lunch. Kids to power those sponges of brains; adults to move and shake the world. Pump your fist to the sky—I don’t care what age you are—and chant “I deserve this!” if you’re in doubt about buying it. There’s no law against having it. Everyone deserves happiness.

That’s all for my monologue. Thanks for reading! Kids, best of luck, and believe in yourself this school year. Parents, do the same and treat yourself. Others? Well, have that nostalgic snack food. Don’t give me excuses. Just enjoy it, because you are deserving of joy.

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