I loved back to school time as a kid. I got a new school bag and all the supplies a little nerd could ask for - binders, folders, pencil cases, pencils, pens, paper, organizers. It was one of the most exciting times of the year for me as a kid. Sadly, times have changed.
Now, instead of buy supplies for my child I am given a list of $40 worth of items that are considered "standard" that I am requested to purchase and bring to the classroom. They aren't supplies for Hobbit but instead, for the "community". Our list looked like this today -
• 3 pkgs. #2 pencils
• 1 box of Crayola colored pencils or markers
• 2 pkg thin dry erase markers
• Pkg of highlighters
• Pkg of Post-it notes
• 1 pair Fiskar scissors
• 2 Elmer’s white glue stick
• 5 solid color pocket folders with pockets and prongs
• 3 composition notebooks (not spiral)
• 2 boxes of tissues
• 1 ream of plain white copy paper
• 1 pack of WIDE ruled lined paper
• 1 bottle of unscented hand sanitizer
• 1 in or 1 ½ in three ring binde
These items are to be handed in, without Hobbit's name on them, so they can be added to some larger community pool of supplies. Once we've met the teacher, I will be handed a second list of supplies that are classroom specific. That list generally runs me an additional $40 and is full of more community items such as construction paper, zip lock baggies, index cards and the like. Again, no name on them because of the whole "community" aspect.
When did this become the norm? When did people stop supplying for their own children and start having to foot the bill for everyone else? I know this sounds terrible but let me explain how I have come to despise the whole "it takes a village" mindset...
Last year, the teacher sent home a list of supplies to make graham cracker cookie houses just before Christmas break. None of the families brought things in and Hobbit's teacher asked her to see if we could bring in EVERYTHING on the list. We were floored at the nerve but thought perhaps there was a new system and we were somehow financially responsible for this activity. We did as requested and $35 later had the supplies for her entire class to make graham cracker cookie house before the holiday break... only to have the supplies divvied up on January 6th when they returned BACK from break. We were then given a list for the Valentine's Day party and asked if we could supply it all. That is when we put our foot down.
We called the teacher and were told that the other parents could not afford it. During the school meeting night, we met the other parents. The women all - and no, am not exaggerating - had their nails done, both men and women were covered in tattoos, everyone had their nose in an updated cellphone, and the vast majority wreaked of cigarette smoke. It was vile. So no, it's not that they couldn't afford it - they chose to not do it!
I do not get my nails my done because it is a luxury that I chose to not indulge in at the moment. I used to many years ago but stopped when I needed the money for other things. I do not have tattoos but I do know they are expensive. I do not have a cellphone because that is an expense I do not need or want. I do not smoke but I do know the cost of the habit, as I used to smoke myself but I most certainly never did so at the expense of my children's needs.
I don't appreciate being saddled with the expense of other people's children simply because they chose to spend their money on their nails, cellphone service, cigarettes, or tattoos. Instead of buying a carton of cigarettes, they can get their kids' school supplies. Instead of paying for the expensive cellphone plan, they can get their kids' school supplies. Instead of having their nails done that week, they can get their kids' school supplies. Lots of ways in order to pay for these things... the difference in where people have their priorities.
Mine are towards my family... so excuse me if I refuse to be a part of your 'village'. I'm sorry that you don't care enough about the welfare and needs of your family to forgo some of your luxury expenses but I am not going to be the one who foots the bill because you are a deadbeat. If you can't afford to outfit your child for school but you can somehow afford your nails, hair, tattoos, cigarettes, and cellphone then perhaps your child would be better off in a home where they would be properly attended to - as it appears you are too selfish and lazy to do the job.
Now, please excuse me while I go and write my daughter's name in her new sparkly binder for school. The 'village' can kiss my hiney...