School shopping can be juggling act

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

I love to shop. However, I don’t enjoy shopping when back-to-school time rolls around. Mile-long school supply lists and a son who refuses to wear anything other than black does not equal a good time.

This year, I chose to drag my children to the mall the weekend before school started. I encountered a few snippy sales clerks, but the lines were manageable, which meant my son was somewhat less embarrassed to be seen with me and my daughter had fewer people to annoy.

This year I decided to enlist my friend Jennifer for my shopping trip. I warned Jennifer ahead of time that she would be in charge of wrangling my toddler while I tried to talk my son into buying something with a collar. She must be a glutton for punishment because she agreed.

Our day started at the BX where every piece of clothing I held up to my 12-year-old son was met with groans or a turned up nose (apparently stripes and colors are not cool) and my daughter refused to ride in the cart.

We managed to agree on three shirts, so we checked out and headed to the mall.

While Jennifer played with my daughter, I argued with my son over appropriate attire for junior high.

I said no to blood-dripping skull T-shirts, oversized, sagging, underwear-showing black pants with chains and a spiked belt.

I said yes to three age-appropriate (but still cool) black band T-shirts.

We then headed to purchase school supplies. Gone are the days of purchasing 20 bottles of glue, 500 crayons, three different sizes of colored paper and 14 boxes of Kleenex. Instead we searched for the perfect three ring binder (black), mechanical pencils and pens (black not blue ink).

All in all it was a successful shopping trip. I didn’t need sedatives, my son won’t start school looking like a garage band reject, my toddler didn’t break anything and Jennifer is still my friend.

Tonya Fennell is a Freedom Newspapers columnist. She can be reached by e-mailing: