Parenting

My back-to-school boycott

Tracy wonders why there's so much money shelled out this time of year.

Photo: sjlocke/iStockphoto

I don’t get it. The whole back-to-school purchase push reminds me of the inflated value of a lost tooth in today’s society. I mean, honestly, five bucks for a tooth?
 
Yes, I only have little ones and I can only speak as a mom of little ones, but as my six-year-old heads into Grade One in a few weeks, she won’t be toting a new backpack full of fresh supplies, decked out in crisp clothes and $100 kicks.
 
It’s like when Christmas advertising begins (anytime now) and we suddenly feel like we have to start Christmas shopping. The power of suggestion is so incredible. When I started getting back-to-school flyers (on August 1 — poor kids!) I wondered if I should get out shopping for back-to-school stuff.
 
But what? I have no idea what Anna needs for Grade One, except indoor shoes. I took a look at her backpack and said to her, “This backpack’s fine for Grade One, isn’t it?” She replied, “Yep, it’ll do.” I did purchase a bigger cooler bag, because she needed it for camp this summer, along with a thermos in case she wants warm things. But that’s pretty much it. You probably know better than I do what she needs. If it’s pencil crayons, I’m sure we have 500 around this house that we could sharpen up. Pencil case? There must be half a dozen of them from birthday party loot bags. I even have a few binders kicking around my office that she’s welcome to.
 
I’ll confess that I’m the lucky recipient of hand-me-downs, so even if Anna’s grown out of some of her long pants and warmer tops, we’ll have a replenished supply. But even if I didn’t, I don’t think I’d run out and buy a new wardrobe now for the year ahead. It will be warm for some time still, won’t it? (Pretty please?) Something I’ve learned about my daughters is that they’re happy wearing the same couple of drawers full of clothes. Anna in particular likes to be comfortable over fashionable. She hates jeans or any pants she has to do up, so they all just sit there taking up space (though I wonder if she’ll be influenced by peers in the clothing department this year). I’m going to wait until we discover what’s missing.
 
I guess I’m still at that lucky stage of having kids who don’t care about making a big entrance on the first day. Parents reading this who have older kids are probably remembering back when they didn’t have to shell out for trendy clothes and the latest gizmos. I’ll try to avoid letting my girls in on the secret that back-to-school time doubles as a gift extravaganza for as long as I can.
 
I did buy them each a new dress (here’s Avery’s; here’s Anna’s) a couple of weeks ago, on sale at Old Navy for $14 each (plus 25 percent off!) that I haven’t given them yet. So I lied — maybe they will start their school years in new clothes. Just for that first-day-of-school picture’s sake, of course.
 
What do you buy your kids as they head back to school? Do you find it’s a good time for sales and stocking up for the year?