Back-To-School Shopping Was A Strange, Oddly Fun Experience


Because we are all now living in Bizzaro World, my daughter Jen and I took the kids shopping for school clothes. Whether they will actually be attending school is still being debated, but my position on the matter is this — the only fun thing about going back to school is the back-to-school shopping, and why should my grandchildren be deprived of that?

So we all got “suited up” with our masks and gloves and sanitizing wipes, and headed out to a store. The rules were clear — and extensive. There would only be one store; no one was allowed to stray more than three feet from their accompanying adult; children were not to grab things willy-nilly; we had to stay in budget; and, after the items were selected, mommy had the final say. If these rules were not adhered to, everything would be put back, the children would be loaded into the car and no one would get so much as an ice cream cone on the way home.

We were all praying that the other ones would stay in line.

I must say, it went pretty well. The children were delirious at being allowed out in a public place and were, therefore, almost perfectly behaved. (I would say “perfectly” without the caveat, but you’d know I was lying because, you know, children.)

My daughter took the girl and headed for her department, and I took the boy and headed in the other direction. “Just get a nice mix of stuff,” Jen advised. “Shirts, pants, you know.”

Let me just say it right now — I love shopping with men, even seven-year-old “men.” They know what they want, and they feel absolutely no need to compare those items with other items or to look at bothersome price tags.

Here’s what Skippy wants: sports gear. Anything made of jersey and displaying the Nike swoosh or a team logo is acceptable. In short order, he had chosen four shirts, four pairs of shorts, two pairs of long pants and we were done. As we rounded a corner, he saw the belts and grabbed one off the rack. “I need a bigger belt,” he said. He also chose one package of underwear and one package of socks.

When we got to the shoe department, we discovered that his foot had grown two sizes during the shopping famine. “I don’t want laces,” he told me. “Laces are out.” Brilliantly, shoe companies have finally recognized this and have all kinds of shoes that look like they have laces but are actually slip-ons. Mom happy, kid happy. Great. He chose two pairs of shoes.

He found a backpack he liked (I wondered if he’d get to use it) and a Nike lunchbox, which he does not need but, like I said, Nike. At my urging, we swung through the toy department where a Lego helicopter found its way into the cart and into my own personal budget.

When we met up with the mom-daughter team, 5-year-old Tess was delirious with joy. She’d always been fashion-conscious and, when introduced to the miracle of an 80 percent off sale, went absolutely wild. If her mother tried to cull out some of the less-practical purchases, Tess would clutch them to her chest imploring, “Not this! How could I ever give up this?” So, in addition to the helicopter, my budget made room for a small stack of t-shirts and a pair of Christmas pajamas that will absolutely be too small for her by Christmas.

Because we had done so well following the rules, Jen bought us each a smoothie on the way home. And I got a hat. It was nice remembering what fun was like.

Click here to follow Deborah Welky’s Sonic Boomer humor column on Facebook.