Fun (kind of): The Necessity of Shopping

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For years, I was a robotic shopper. My two sons were 18 months apart in age. I knew exactly where to go for diapers, wipes, Veg-all (yuck) and all the necessities life demanded at that time. It was a routine that wasn’t taxing psychologically and that’s a good thing when you’re trying to keep tabs on two little ones, accomplish your task and not lose anyone in the process.

And then they grew. They started to care about what they wore and voiced their opinions. Since I had the checkbook (if you don’t know what that is you are too young to read this blog!) I cast the winning vote. I did consider the comments.

A few years passed and then my husband and I provided a clothing allowance. Within the agreed upon conditions of clothing style appropriateness, I was no longer hostage on retail hunting expeditions. I just handed over the dough, awaited a receipt and sang hallelujah.

Now those two are in college, buy their own underwear (oops, too much information) and are making their own way in life. I would have let them choose my way but I already took it so it’s a good thing they’re creative.

So today, when I found myself in a local clothing store, I was lost. All the automaticity I had developed during the last 20 years is worthless! I found myself actually looking at the store signage. Boys 4-7. Don’t need that. Infants. Ditto. Womens. If I HAVE to.

The goal: jeans and shapewear. For those of you who don’t know what THAT is, you are too old to read this blog. Think updated girdle and on you’re on the right track. I came armed with my newspaper flyers, scratch-off cards and coupons. Heck, they’d even deduct at least 15 percent of my total purchase if I put it on my store card. YIPPEE.

I amazed myself, honestly. I jostled my way within reach of the clearance clothing and with precision I paused at each denim item – first checking the size and then the price. Pass or Play? I’d decide and move on. By the time I made it through the racks I had 15 garments hanging over my right arm. I could have used a store buggy but that would have been too hard. I would have had to think about getting it and then actually retrieve it.

I was relieved to see that the Trying on Room Dictator was not present to count my clothing items. I quickly snagged a room, hung my purse and began the clothing parade. Most of the items were voted “off the island” and banished back to their racks but I did find the jeans, the shapewear  I needed (and I won’t get too specific here) and even a new black blazer to replace my other. I even shocked myself by purchasing a pair of pants that were too small. Not too, too small, mind you, but a few more pounds away small. I called it incentive. It didn’t hurt that it was 80 percent off.

In case you’re wondering, I did re-hang the rejects and put them on the provided rack before heading to check out where I almost died from amazement. No lines and no waiting. The nice cashier patiently smiled while I narrated. “These are 50 percent off. Can do you a price check on those? I’ll keep them. Thank you.” And on it went. She hit the total button, I handed her my charge card and another $25 came off. I may not be an extreme couponista but I know good prices when I see them.

The thing that ruined the whole successful experience for me though was when the nice cashier (who shall not be named because I didn’t read her name tag) announced quite loudly that I had SAVED $195 and only SPENT $125.

“Dang,” I thought to myself. “You mean I could have paid $320 for all those items and NOT saved a thing? What’s wrong with me?”

ETC: I Got “Schooled”

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Late? Twice.

Without proper supplies? Yes. Once.

Doodled during class? On numerous occasions.

Stressed out? Pretty much consistently.

Confession? No.

This is how I spent my summer vacation.

While my 6th-8th grade students were sunbathing, eating sushi and whatever tweens do these days, I was voluntarily in summer school – for teachers. Actually, the EPI  (Educator Preparatory Institute) is for folks like me whose college degrees are in fields other than education.  With the experience freshly seared into my almost half-century brain, the clearest lesson was realizing how hard it is to be a student. So much of life takes place outside the classroom – yet so very much takes place within it as well.

And did I mention the walking field trip? I almost left the class because I didn’t WANT to participate. My idea of fun was not to go to a cancer survivors park with people I barely knew – especially when cancer recently took my sister’s life. The park had caught my attention weeks ago.  I had planned to go alone but it became our field trip destination and we were to investigate the park and talk about its symbolism. After I saw where we were headed I contemplated an escape but later decided to work through it. As I stood off to the side (don’t we all do that occasionally in life and in learning?), I told myself I could handle the experience. I’d just avoid eye contact with my classmates. Later, as I stood at the end of a miniature replica of one of Jacksonville’s bridges, a classmate came by and walked with me – figuratively and literally – from one side to the other.

How many times have my students wanted to disengage? More than I know, probably.  How many of them could point to make progress with the help of a friend? All of them, I hope.

And the other complimentary facets of the EPI? Deadlines, homework and being “graded.”  I even called my mom hoping to raise some cashola for my “honor roll worthy” grades. Too late, she said. The bills were paid and nothing was left.

Wow. That’s how I felt after seven weeks of school. I did the work, met the deadlines (except once, there I go again) and built a little extra arm muscle toting around my laptop computer. No, it’s not an Apple and yes, I’m sure it affected my social status.

So what DID I learn?

It always took longer to get to class than I thought it would.

Life outside the classroom affects my ability in the classroom.

I enjoy working hard because I’m proud of the results – even if mom doesn’t pay me!

I don’t mind the extra effort when I know my teacher believes I can do it.

Hmmm. I’m thinking these lessons should help refine my classroom to be a better place this school year. I’m glad.

I’m also one huge step closer to earning my professional teaching certificate.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have 7 days of summer (without school) to soak in before pre-planning calls.