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Are all those supplies REALLY necessary?

I had many people comment on my column from last week and before I continue I thought I would post something my friend Jean sent me that sums up a lot of what I was trying to get out there last week. My parents smacked me when I was naughty...

I had many people comment on my column from last week and before I continue I thought I would post something my friend Jean sent me that sums up a lot of what I was trying to get out there last week.

My parents smacked me when I was naughty... I didn't hate them. I didn't have trust issues with them because of it. I didn't fear them... but I damn sure respected them! I learned what my boundaries were and knew what would happen if I broke them. I wasn't abused - I was disciplined. SINCE WE TOOK THIS SOFT APPROACH LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY AND YOUNGSTERS.

With the start of the school year fast approaching, I thought I would put my two cents into what I think of the ever-popular school supply list. Now most of you already know that I grew up in a large family with nine children lining up for the first day of school picture. You may wonder where I'm going with this and it's more about what's in our school 'bags', if you can call them that. We did not have backpacks "back then" and book bags would be a luxury. So....we started the year with a plastic or paper bag full of school supplies that were recycled so to speak from my siblings. I was third from the bottom so just having a full pencil was like winning the lottery. I didn't know the difference between 'name brand' and 'generic' and neither did my parents. It was A PENCIL. It didn't matter if it was new or used, it was A PENCIL and that's all the list required.

We now jump forward thirty years (or so, ha, ha) and I have lists for a grade one and a grade seven student in my hand. The grade one student is required to have 10 HB pencils (good quality) and the grade seven student is required to have 40 pencils. Are you kidding me? Forty pencils. That's absurd. Even if they went to school for 40 weeks (which they don't), that's one pencil a week. I don't care if you are an extreme doodler, you can't go through a pencil a week. Now don't forget, they also require twenty pens, pencil crayons, red pens and markers that will help with your doodling process. There are 25 items on the Grade One school list and 54 items (that's counting the 40 pencils, etc. as one item - 127 items if you don't, along with 1000 sheets of loose-leaf paper) on the Grade Seven list ALONG with SCHOOL FEES.

With the older generation still staring at this with their jaws dropped, you also need to know that all items MUST be labeled including INDIVIDUAL pencil crayons. Once again....ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Are the kids not responsible for anything anymore? I realize this method also will free the teachers from being accountable for little Johnny's possessions, but honestly. Now apparently when you show up at school with these supplies, they all go into a community bin of some sort which I assume the teacher or the aides are "the keepers". This will ensure that when your child needs an item, they will go to the "treasure chest" and find the supply with your child's name on it, yet many parents tell me that they are just given another pencil which is not necessarily their child's. They want THEIR child to use the supplies that THEY bought for THEM but all this preparation and labeling seems to disappear in the heat of the school year.

Now before any of you teachers claim "foul" (as I know this is frustrating to some of you also), I will once again say that this does not pertain to ALL teachers but apparently it's happening. The kicker is at the end of the school year, none of these unused supplies make their way back home. Where do they go? Is it a secret organization that won't allow you to know that your child only used 23 of the 40 pencils? Maybe if you got 17 of them back, it wouldn't hurt the pocket book the next year when they continue to ask for more. A lot of these parents have more than one child and I'm sure they would welcome some help with supplies, however it comes.

I had one parent approach me and convey that the retail sector picks up on this also. They request on the school supply list for the student to have a 4GB USB memory stick (I know, the older generation is saying "what is that?"). The scam (so she thinks) is when you go to the store to comply with your list and pick up a 4GB stick for $9.99 and right next to the display are 8 GB sticks on for $7.99. Now that is twice as much memory as needed, yet the list says 4GB right there so I guess that's what she should pick up. She remembers last year when she bought a different size of something on the list to help save a little money and was reprimanded by the teacher when arriving with supplies.

I realize things have changed DRAMATICALLY since I went to school, and years of teaching have required changes to supply lists. I know many of the teachers found it hard implementing these changes but it was what was dictated to them to do. For example, what the heck do they need a calculator for? Don't kid yourself, I know the answer to that because they wouldn't know what to do without one now. They have allowed them in the school system so long that unless the kids have them close to them, they can't add two plus two. They rely on them totally because they were never TAUGHT to actually use what is between their ears. It's painful to receive change from some of these working students as they stumble to get the coins to add up to the next dollar. I'm sure people get incorrect change all the time because we just believe that the till is giving us the proper information and the tellers are punching in the correct numbers. Pretty scary...but that's another column.

Maxine's Advice: Few women admit their age...few men act it! (ouch, that hurts, hey guys).

Pet peeve of the week: People smoking in a vehicle with the windows rolled up. It's even worse when they have passengers who are non-smokers. Honestly people...maybe a little consideration would be nice!

Maybe that's just me...let me know what you think!