Playing on Labor Day

Today is a “stolen day” at my house – one of those days that we get Mister Soandso home and we all hang out in our pajamas way past socially acceptable standards. But then, it is a holiday so what is socially acceptable anyway? We are bandying about the ideas of going for a bike ride, cleaning the garage, or doing more work on creating Halloween Steampunk costumes. The calendar may say it’s a holiday celebrating labor but we seem to be more about playing. Which is as it should be. Right?

I do have some errands to run and the evil, evil voice inside my head is suggesting I go play my favorite game of all: watch the hysteria of the Back-To-School shopping at my local stores, especially the one with red circles in its logo. Do you play this game? No? Let me explain.

Go to the bins of crayons, markers, wide-ruled spiral notebooks, et cetera and shout out helpful bits of advice to the horde of glazed-eyed folks pawing through them. Things like “there’s a blue notebook over there, under that display of tissue boxes!” or “does anyone need a slightly bent protractor?”

The key is to look like you are part of the process so that your presence is accepted but do not, under any circumstance, attempt to actually touch any items because that will cause you to become part of the competition at which point your health and welfare may come under attack.

Obviously, I don’t actually play these kinds of games. But it would be funny. Very funny.

Because I don’t need to buy any stuff for my kids’ return to school. I learned that lesson years ago.

I start the first part of August, one kid at a time and purchase all the necessary boxes of crayons and colored pencils. It’s fun. Me, all alone in the stacks and stacks of school supplies. I sometimes just sit down and open all the crayon boxes to sniff the wholesome goodness of school supplies. Other times, it’s me and a few other battle-scarred folks flipping through packs of ruled paper, sniffing the smell of youth.

I wasn’t always this smart. One year I was busy. I allowed myself to be distracted by all the shiny fun of summer and thought I had loads of time before Biggest headed off to school. So there I was, on Labor Day, going head to head with 200 mothers and their children, arm wrestling over folders and lunch boxes.

That year, Biggest headed off to school with a slightly bent green folder, a folder touting the benefits of recycling, and a notebook with a puppy on the front. It was the best I could do.

Children, if your adults have put off school shopping too late, my sympathies. Don’t worry about being teased…once you scribble enough doodles across that Hello Kitty notebook young man, it will hardly be noticeable.

In all seriousness, if you have the means to do so, please consider picking up some extra school supplies to donate. The number of kids who have no supplies is staggering. Just about every grocery store has a bin where you can drop off new supplies and they will be distributed in your community. If not, call a local church or your schools–someone out there is looking for all the help you can give.

Today, some folks have a paid holiday and some folks do not. As a former union member, I thank each and every union member past and present for fighting for the rights of all workers for better working conditions and better opportunities. Those kids who benefit from new crayons to make beautiful pictures live in a better world because of the unions of the United States.  Thank you.