As all 3 boys got ready to start their 2016-2017 school year yesterday, I couldn't help but think of years' past and all the ways things are so very different now that they're in high school (gulp!) and middle school.
THEN: Outfits were lovingly curated dayssssss in advance. (See above with the matching striped shirts that kind of makes me want to punch my 2008 self...) Stores like Gymboree, Carters, Oshkosh and Children's Place were scoured for "cute school clothes".
NOW: Wear what you got, kids! It's still summer. Gym shorts and tee shirts of the non-wrinkled, non-stained, proper fitting kind are acceptable. And actually, wrinkled is fine. School clothes will be shopped for when the season changes and you actually need long sleeves and long pants. And actually, you all insist on wearing shorts year-round, so scratch that.
THEN: Along with the clothes, a very special backpack was picked out yearly. Sometimes it was even from LLBean and monogrammed. (True story. On more than one occasion. I know...punch me again!) This was back before the boys were even aware of brand names, and Momma had full control.
NOW: Ummm have you SEEN the price of backpacks these days?! Yeah, NO. The expensive brand name backpacks are to be re-used, preferably for 2-3 years. So unless your backpack has disintegrated into ashes, you are using it again. And again. I had no intention of buying an $80 backpack (does it do your homework for you too at that price?!) for anyone this year, but then Youngest brought it to my attention that he did, in fact, need a new one. The one he carried last year was a hand-me-down, and it seems Eldest had started using it this summer to transport his smelly football gear. So Youngest's request was legit. And off we headed to the outlets, so he could get a coveted Under Armour backpack...at 50% OFF! Momma don't play.
THEN: Mom and Dad stood outside with the boys, waiting expectantly for the big yellow bus to round the corner, constantly taking pictures of the bus, of the children, of the children stepping onto the bus, of the children sitting on the bus, of the bus going down the street transporting such precious cargo.
NOW: One quick pic is snapped outdoors. Then Mom and Dad go back in the house to get ready for work, leaving the kids in the driveway to catch the bus when it comes.
THEN: Not only was the bus trip documented via minute by minute pictures, but then we also followed the bus to the school. To document the arrival. And to take pictures in the classroom.
NOW: No way, no how.
THEN: As soon as the school supply lists were published, I was printing them out and marking time on the calendar as to when we could all go together (wheeee!) to pick out everyone's school supplies. Back then, I was working at Staples corporate headquarters, so as a faithful employee, the boys and I would go to our local Staples, and each would be handed a basket and their list, and they could go to town, getting everything their little hearts desired...with my employee discount.
NOW: The week before school started, it hits me that the boys kinda need to fill their used backpacks with supplies. Shit. I print out the lists, sigh heavily and roll my eyes at half of the "required" items (I mean, does a 6th grader really need a set of multicolored Sharpies? No. The answer is no. And wanna know why I know this? Because I've already sent 2 children to school with the required multicolored Sharpies THAT NEVER GOT USED.) I then go on to Staples.com (now a loyal former employee) and load up my virtual shopping cart with items that *I* feel like they will use for their required grades. No more hours spent poring over the overwhelming (and already picked-over) array of folders/notebooks/pens/pencils/gluesticks and choosing the right color/brand. You get what you get. And it comes to you in a box. Delivered to the front door. The end.
THEN: Lunchboxes were bought yearly. Again, perhaps involving LLBean or Land's End monogramming. Healthy snacks and lunch items were planned. Sugar was kept to a minimum, lest the teachers judge my mothering skills. Sandwiches were prepared every morning according to each child's specific request. One child only likes mayo, one will only use yellow mustard, one likes theirs plain. Only one eats bologna, while the other 2 eat nutella. All 3 will eat ham, but again, the condiments must be correct for each child. For YEARS I did this. YEARS.
NOW: Doritos and cosmic brownies for all! Help yourself, kids! And you all know where the bread, meat and condiments are. Make your own damn sammich.
Love you, boys! Have a great school year!