Thank you, dear parent, for providing classroom school supplies. But in addition to the paper, felt-tip markers, pencils, tape, baggies, folders, notebooks, Kleenex, toilet tissue, hand sanitizer, bandages, splints, slings, surgical sponges, latex gloves, lice combs, coxsackie detection kits and four bottles of cabernet that we requested for the classroom, we’d like to recommend you stock up on a number of items for your own home.
-- A damn good pencil sharpener: Sure, this seems simple, but this crucial item actually will be difficult to find. The solid, trusty pencil sharpeners with those finger-swallowing rotating blades that you recall from your own school days have gone the way of Atari Pong. In their place are battery-operated bits of cheap plastic that put safety ahead of sharpness. They’re no match for the hardwood in a No. 2 Ticonderoga. To find the Real Deal, we suggest you scour antique stores or salvage yards, or perhaps bring a screwdriver and a sack with you next time you visit your old school during homecoming week.
-- Valium: Studies suggest children learn best in homes where parents are supportive, nurturing and, above all, calm. If yoga or prayer isn’t working, and if booze turns you mean, we suggest the chemical assistance that comes from what doctors call “the secretary’s friend.” It may be difficult to obtain a legal Valium prescription, owing to the drug’s highly addictive nature, so we suggest a visit to an accommodating pharmacy during your next visit to Mexico or Turkey. (And don’t forget to save a few tablets for Teacher Appreciation Week!)
-- Large plastic tubs: Your child is still in elementary school, that magical time when every sloppy writing assignment or scribbled bit of “artwork” is still precious. Trust us, this won’t last. But while it does, you’ll need something to hold the reams of Crayola-coated crap that will be sent home over the next 10 months. If the bins take up too much space in your New York apartment, check out nearby mini-storage facilities and ask about the “Elementary parent discount.” You might also inquire about industrial shredder services for that “What do we do with all this stuff?” moment that will arrive sometime around 7th grade.
-- A new backpack: Your child will likely come home in tears next week because her backpack features images of One Direction or Justin Bieber (so 2011) rather than Pink or “Hunger Games” star Josh Hutcherson. You can counter this emotional outburst by patiently explaining it’s pointless to mindlessly follow the pack in a blind chase after whatever clothing trend or boy band happens to be momentarily fashionable. (If you do, please see “Valium” above.) Or you can give in, upgrade all photo-encrusted clothing, and remember next year not to buy anything until the third week of school, when the year’s trends and stars have been officially identified by the cool kids.
-- Internet content controls: We all need the ’net, because it’s the only place parents can figure out what the hell’s going on in New York’s byzantine education system. But face it: By the time your kid reaches 2nd grade, he or she will probably know how to use your iPad better than you. Yet there’s still a chance to forestall that inevitable moment when your child comes to depend on YouTube rather than you for answers to life’s delicate questions. If you have difficulty installing content-control software on your computer, ask your kid for help.
We hope these suggestions will help over the coming school year as your home turns into a homeroom. And, again, thanks for all those supplies you provided, especially the cabernet.