Aug 28 2014
Well, that time is upon us – the kids are getting ready for back to school. This year we have a 7th, 10th, and 12th grader. The whole scenario of getting the kids ready made me think fondly of when I was their ages and my mom was getting me prepared for back to school. I sat there, thinking of similar moments for me – then I realized that there weren’t any. And it struck me too that we’ve hit another cultural transition from when our kids went to German public schools because American school is a lot different. Let’s take a look at a couple of things:
Lockers as a Budgeting Lesson?
Unlike when I went to school, or when our kids went to school in Germany, where you showed up on the first day, we were able to take Sam’s books to school a couple of days early and put them in his locker. Great, good change – I like that schools offer this opportunity. However, the next surprise was the locker decoration! Sam was easy, all he had were a couple of magnets to put on the inside of his locker door. But others! Oh my word – some girls and moms appeared to be decorating their college dorm room – wallpaper, stickers, fancy shelving, photos.
As an example of how far this trend has come, stores now sell back to school locker decorating supplies: tiny rugs, disco balls (I hope these come with little disco dancers in white suits for display), chandeliers, and curtains.
Some people are spending over $100 to decorate little Suzy’s locker. And if you are wondering if it is the girls who are the market for this, go to the website LockerLookz (what is it with “z” as designating plural?) and tell me this trend isn’t marketed to girls. And LockerLookz slogan is: “Your locker. Your look.” “Now Available…Our 2014 Collection” – please, someone stop this madness!
Finally, you know it’s bad when you see articles on teaching kids about budgeting and it includes spending on locker decorations as an item to discuss.
Where is my Fonz Lunch box?
I recall lunch boxes and paper sacks. Sandwiches were PB&J or egg salad with Miracle Whip (I put my foot down on the egg salad though when a popular girl incredulously asked “what is that smell” when she walked by the closet with my lunch sack in it).
In Germany, it was just as simple as when I was a kid – paper sacks, and give the kids a euro for a stop at the bakery on the walk to school to pick up a snack (we won’t touch on them being able to walk to school).
Now it is bento boxes or monogrammed thermal lunch boxes and water bottles. And an allergy and health alert asking not to bring certain foods. Could the schools just require Whole Foods as a sole supplier of food?
Speaking of health, my kids’ middle school used to have donut day – kids in senate would walk around the classrooms selling donuts for a dollar. I found out it was cancelled because of health safety violations. I don’t know if safety refers to middle school kids handling food with bare hands; or if health refers to the sugar and chocolate products that were being sold (probably both).
The donuts were nothing compared to what the school kids in Germany buy at the bakeries on their way to school – both for the sweetness content and the 2 or 3 little bees flying around the food for sale.
Finally, I could go into school supplies, but talking about a list that ran more pages than the syllabus I hand to my college students is too much to tackle at the moment. Instead, I think I’ll finish this up, go put on some Bee Gees and make myself an egg salad sandwich with Miracle Whip (and not worry about the popular girl being annoyed with a troubling smell).
For a humorous comparison of going back to school today versus the 70s, go read this.