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Not So Afterthoughts for School

Laurie Everett • Updated Aug 21, 2013 at 2:45 PM

An Aug. 1 start day, that just ain't (I love to type that) right. I realize most of you moms have already gone through the mind numbing ritual; school-supplied supply list in hand, bumbling through Walmart aisles looking for the necessities. The quest to check off those items turns into an exasperating, mom-eat-mom experience as we hover and dive for that last yellow highlighter. 

When I told my youngest daughter I was writing a "Fab back to school essential list" she cringed at the "fab" reference, then looked at me seriously and said, "Mom, I thought you were writing for women, about women....why kids?"  I responded, "Well, you know a lot of women reading my column have kids."  Touché!

Readying for her sophomore year at UT Chattanooga, my daughter is going through similar "hunting and gathering" to start the new school year. But now it's life essential items like toilet paper, Ramen noodles (yes college kids eat them breakfast, lunch and dinner – it's not an urban legend!) and elusive "stick on wall things to hang things" since her walls are block this year on her much downgraded dorm she's determined will "fit better into my student loan budget."

When I asked my savvy colleagues in the newsroom an essential for upper high school level kids, they all said the ultimate would be an Apple iPad.  I thought they were a glorified iPhone, but without the ability to call anyone. I was wrong. Your kids can keep up with everything on this device. I found one at Best Buy in Mt. Juliet. It's the iPad mini WI-FI. Don't freak: it's $529, but has an A5 chip, ultra fast wireless, a 10 hour battery life and 275,000 apps available. It's half the weight of the regular iPad. It's less intrusive in the classroom. This is a purchase that will take them well into college.

Another tool is the TI-85 calculator. This jewel can be found at Rite Aid, Target, Walmart and just about anywhere in Mt. Juliet. When your kids begin high-level mathematics, this is a must! I realize, we are mostly in the weeds at this time and this gem will get your kids through graphing, algebra, calculus and more.

All the rage this year are designer lockers for the tween set. I love you Target. I go to you for decorating my patio, my home and myself. But I've noticed something different. Something other than the usual locker magnets, sparkly mirrors and those funky cages that are supposed to hold all the extra pens and pencils our frazzled kids lose every class period. I'm serious. There are locker rugs, chandeliers (they even light up) wallpaper and curtains. I heard a tween yell out, "Mom, this chandelier is awesome!"  I was disturbed. HGTV miniaturized? But, wait. I'm all for personalizing a new space for tweens trying to deal with uncomfortable transitions. Hormone infused middle school hallways can calm down with the fun of creating a special place tweens visit every 90 minutes, if just for two minutes. It's fun and helps diffuse the tension of turning into an adult. There's no harm. Target has locker carpet, wallpaper, chandeliers, mirrors and more.

A way for students to  express is with shoes. I was at Rack Room Shoes at Providence and a kid begged his mom for the Nike Air Force 1 tennis shoe.  He eventually agreed to do chores to put these shoes on his feet. 

This year, crazy-patterned duck tape is all the rage. Gone are book covers.

Hadley and Finn in Lebanon specialize in monogramming. As your child eases into kindergarten, it would be nice to surprise them with their personalized backpack, just like the big kids. For the older kids a fleece jacket can be monogrammed with the school name or your child's; oxford shirts as well.

Bottom line, these days are grueling, fleeting and can never be replaced. Embrace the chaos.

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