Kindergarten is upon us. This Thursday we will drop Addie off at school, into the hands of her very capable teacher.
We are excited for her, she is excited to go...but I'm okay with the first day being a half day.
Preparing for school means tackling one of my favorite things - school supplies. This time of year isn't back to school season. For me, it is school supply season. I've always loved shopping for school supplies, whether I was in school or out of school. And now, after not having a "legitimate" need to buy school supplies (who are we kidding, there's always a need!) for several years, Addie gives me a reason to grab a list and breathe in the aroma of new crayons, crack open a new notebook, and hunt down the elusive brands that teachers are requesting (Prang watercolors, anyone?).
While Addie attended preschool at age three for two days a week and then pre-K programs in Ilinois and Kansas, we are encountering new territory with a different level of school registration, paperwork, the possibility of buying lunch, and...fees.
I knew that this year the district here in Kansas was, for the first time, charging a fee for registering kindergartners. As I went through the registration process and neared the end, there was another fee I was unaware of, for supplies and other things I can't remember. It would have been nice to have been aware of that fee beforehand (and maybe it was in some paperwork I didn't fully read), but what was I going to do? Not register Addie? I wasn't upset, just a little surprised. I paid the fees and registration was complete.
Tonight I was out taking care of some errands. We had already bought Addie's school supplies, but on my agenda was to pick up a couple of extra boxes of crayons and markers. At this stage of the school game it appears that a lot of teachers pool the classroom supplies. Each child has some items that are exclusively theirs, but other supplies are used by the classroom as a whole. In a letter we received from Addie's teacher, she suggested buying extras of a few items, as they are on sale now and they will go through quite a few crayons and other specific items throughout the year. I was up for that and had added a few things to my list.
While I was standing in the checkout lane I was behind a woman and two kids, probably a middle schooler and maybe a high schooler. To be honest, I wasn't paying a lot of attention, until they started removing items from the checkout conveyor belt. Even then, I didn't pay too much attention, other than to notice they were picking and choosing what to purchase and what to put back. They left, I moved up, checked out, and left.
I was a little annoyed because I was headed to find two more boxes of Crayola classic broad tip (Oh, the specificity!) markers that the previous store was sold out of, sending me to hunt them down elsewhere. I found them, even on sale, and got in my car to drive home, when the realization came over me, right there in the parking lot.
I was able to buy what I needed for my kid to go to school. I didn't pick and choose, I just got what she needed.
That thought was followed by a reminder. Earlier in the week, I had complained a little to a friend about the kindergarten registration fee and the additional fee that I didn't know about until I had to pay it. But, I paid it and went on my way.
And then I was thankful. Humbled, and thankful. While we may not have an overabundance of cash at our disposal, we are taken care of and are able to take care of our needs and those of our girls. We are able to give a little and spend a little.
Tonight, I didn't have to put things back. In fact, I was at the store to buy more.
I am thankful for this reminder, especially as we are headed into this school year. I am consistently reminded of how we are provided for, and although that provision may not always look like I think it should, our needs are met. I am reminded that others may not be able to do all they want to do, and may have to pick and choose, which could come down to some really hard choices, I'm sure. I am reminded that at times we have been, are, and will be in need ourselves.
I pray that this year our family will be givers. Not to be known as givers, but that God would open our eyes and that we would have a willingness to step out and give where we can. I say willingness because giving isn't always easy. It requires time, patience, resources - things that can be uncomfortable to sacrifice.
Again, I am thankful for tonight's reminder, and challenged as we start this school year.