Vail Daily columnist Linda Stamper Boyne: Love shopping, except …
Vail, CO, Colorado
Fall is encroaching on my summer. This year it sneaked up on me, and I’m not ready because that means my absolute least favorite event of the year is upon me. I have to shop for school supplies for the boys.
Oh, man! I just hate it!
This is not my normal reaction to shopping. I love shopping. I’d even go so far as to list it among my hobbies. And truth be told, any type of shopping brings me joy. Clothes? Absolutely. Groceries? You bet. Furniture, cars, athletic gear, books? Yep. Shoes? Well, duh! Heaven!
So to be filled with a sense of dread about an activity that I usually find so enjoyable is confusing. I remember loving school-supply shopping when I was the one getting the new No. 2s and Crayolas and PeeChees. Now I can’t even give forethought to the actual outing because if I focus on what’s about to occur, I might abort the mission altogether.
What makes this such an anxiety-ridden activity for me? I can’t name just one thing because it’s a complex amalgamation of several elements that creates the perfect storm.
Start with my two high-energy boys, each with his own shopping cart. Add their excitement about getting new stuff (even if it is for school). That right there might be enough to stop a lesser woman, but then multiply that by being in an enclosed space with too many aisles full of too many choices and two lists of 20 items with such strict specifications you’d think we were buying supplies for the International Space Station.
It’s barely controlled chaos. First we have to decipher the list to make sure we’re getting the right stuff because we don’t want to get the wrong-color folders or forget something that would surely ruin the entire school year. Then begins the hunt, searching for the exact items on the list amid the hundreds of options that all begin to look alike.
This year I had to battle to keep unauthorized items out of the carts. This conversation almost sent me over the edge.
Small Boyne: “Mom, this is so cool! Can we get it?”
Me: “Is it on your list?”
Small Boyne: “No.”
Me: “Then we’re not getting it.”
Small Boyne: “Why not?”
Me: “Because we’re only getting things on the list today.”
Small Boyne: “Why?”
Me: “Because we’re just getting your school supplies.”
Small Boyne: “But it’s really cool!”
Me: “Yes, it is. But we’re only getting things on your list today.”
Small Boyne: “Why?”
True conversation. I guess we have to give him points for being inquisitive. At that point I was seriously close to hyperventilating.Looking for solace, perspective, validation or, at the very least, a little levity, I sent a text out to several friends while hiding behind a giant cardboard pencil: “Is it bad that I desperately want a cocktail while shopping for school supplies?”
The responses gave me all that I was looking for. The first came from their dad: “I totally get it.”
Then came a reply from my best friend and mother of four: “No! I wanted one, too! I’m taking a flask next year.”
Following those were affirmations from other friends that I was not missing some essential Mom gene: “Negative. It’s normal.” “No. I think it would bad if you didn’t.” “Oh, God no! I think it’s to be expected. Hope you’ve had many by now.” “No. That’s why I order them online with a glass of wine in my hand.”
And my absolute favorite: “No. It just makes you all the more Desperate Housewives-y.”
Humor restored, we finished the task and left the third store (oh, yes, the THIRD store) with all items on both lists checked off. I could resort to online shopping like my friend, or ordering the prepackaged supplies from school the spring prior, but I don’t want to deprive my boys of the joy of school-supply shopping in spite of the agony it causes me. I’m hoping it allows me to accrue some sort of cosmic Mom Points to cover me in my less-than-stellar moments. And, of course, Office Depot Rewards.
Linda Stamper Boyne, of Edwards, can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.