Parents with college-bound students, I feel your pain. Right now, you’re in frantic shopping mode so Baby Dumpling will have everything he needs in the dorm. You’ve purchased a laptop and a bedspread and the cutest little throw pillows, shampoo and soap and copy paper, a crockpot and a semester’s supply of healthy snacks, most of which you know he will ignore, but you’re a parent and it’s your job to at least try.
Preschool parents, you are just getting started on your off-to-school journey. You have a matching backpack and lunch box and are poised to run out and get the crayons and safety scissors once the list is officially posted. I’d like to tell you that you are all set, but you’re not because occasionally (every week), the teacher will send home a note asking for additional supplies.
This past year, my 4-year-old granddaughter was asked to bring (I am not making this up.) one tube sock, one baby sock, three colored buttons and one baby shoe that they could paint gold. Later, the list included one rock, one Frappucino bottle and one man’s tie. Just before Christmas, the newsletter asked for a tuna can (empty) and 32 2-inch cinnamon sticks. When she read that the class was crafting a Christmas gift, my daughter muttered, “It had better be fabulous,” because the cinnamon sticks alone set her back eight dollars.
I know what you’re saying. It would make more sense for the teacher to just ask for $50 up front and make all the purchases herself, but that figure probably wouldn’t seem like a bargain until the end of the year, and so you have the drip, drip, drip of requests. My advice is to get to know the other parents early on, set up a weekly coffee conference where you can plot your post-newsletter strategy. That way you can buy a package of tube socks and baby socks and split the bill. Maybe one family eats tuna and another loves bottled Frappucinos and you can make a trade. Perhaps you saved all of your baby shoes and your daughter’s BFF mom has a backlog of ties. If you maintain this coalition, at the end of the year when it’s requested that each student bring one flower for a teacher appreciation bouquet, whoever is on deck can buy a single bundle and pass them out at the door. Job done. Everyone has everything they need.
While you’re at it, determine who in the group is craft-capable. Who loves to bake? Who gets a discount at Costco? Otherwise, you will be on your own when the party sign-up list is posted. This past year, my daughter had to single-handedly make a stick hobbyhorse, a paper towel roll rocket and 25 Jello Jiggler teddy bears.
It’s all worth it, of course. The teachers lead them in wonderfully creative activities and the kids have a ball. But why make it harder than it has to be? I mean, this is preschool. You have many years ahead of you. There will be Pilgrim hats and cowboy stew and shoebox dioramas, popcorn sales, soccer banquets, corsages to figure out for Homecoming. SAT prep, college scholarship applications, people to write recommendations for rush; you’re going to need help, my dears. And someone will need your help, too. So, keep your parent coalition close at hand, because all too soon you will be sending Baby Dumpling off to college and someone in your group will know exactly how to score extra football tickets for Parents’ Weekend.
It’s all in the prep.