The Editor’s Desk: The back to school shopping blues

How prepared are you for the quest for pencil crayons and erasers? Take the quiz and find out!

There are only three-and-a-bit weeks left of summer vacation (if you’re a student), and there are almost four weeks left of summer vacation (if you’re a parent of school-aged children). That means that the spectre of back-to-school shopping is raising its ugly head for many, while those without children in the school system are saying silent thanks that they will never again need to worry about whether they’re cheaping out by buying knock-off crayons rather than Crayolas.

For those who need to brave the back-to-school shopping trip, here’s a handy checklist to see how prepared you are.

1) Your child’s school made a list of supplies for the upcoming school year available in June. You a) took a picture of it with your smartphone so you have it with you at all times, in case you spot something on sale, b) have a copy somewhere at home, c) think you saw it in your child’s backpack at some point, d) didn’t know kids needed school supplies since isn’t everything done on computers these days?

2) When it comes to actually doing back-to-school shopping, you a) did it all in June when last year’s stock was at clearance prices, b) plan on doing it this week, c) plan on doing it just before Labour Day, because the mall won’t be that busy, right? d) plan on leaving it until after school starts, because they don’t do much the first few days back anyway and at least the mall will be quiet then.

3) Your child almost certainly has unused school supplies from last year. You a) took an inventory and crossed any items off this year’s list that you already had, b) think you know what was left over, but if wrong don’t mind much, because who can’t use more Duotangs? c) plan on asking your child what she had left over, because an eight-year-old is a completely reliable source, d) will buy everything on the list (if you can find it) and then realize you have more pencils, erasers, and rulers than the Walton family could ever use.

4) You plan to do your shopping a) locally; they have everything I need! b) online; it’s so quick and easy! c) at a big box store; yes, crowds, but there’s so much choice! d) wherever I am on September 1.

5) Bearing in mind that these supplies are for your child, you will a) make sure he’s fully involved in the purchase, so that he has a sense of ownership and pride in the items, b) ask for input from your child but ultimately be the one to make the decision, c) have your child somewhere in the store with you when you shop, d) make sure you’re on your own, so no one will complain when you buy the knock-off crayons.

6) Back-to-school clothing can be fraught with danger. Which parent are you? a) I’m sensitive to current trends in fashion for children, and prepared to chart a course between what’s fashionable and what I consider acceptable, b) I know what I think is right and will stick to it no matter what, c) I don’t really care as long as it fits, d) I’m sure that if we let down the hems and sleeves, last year’s clothes wil be fine.

7) You think that clubbing together with other parents to buy supplies in bulk is a) an excellent idea, and I’ll take charge, b) an excellent idea, and someone else can take charge, c) I don’t know any other parents, d) sounds like Communism to me.

8) When it comes to a budget for back-to-school supplies you’ve a) costed things out and have a reasonable budget, b) costed things out and heaved a sigh, c) costed things out and wished you’d looked to see what supplies were left over from last year, d) costed things out and thought that those knock-off crayons don’t look so bad after all.

Score: If you got mostly (a), a gold star for you. If you got mostly (b), a solid effort but there’s room for improvement. If you got mostly (c), you could do better. If you got mostly (d), stay after class.

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