Backpacks Then and Now

Standing in the check out lane at Super Target watching the little girl in front of me place her brand new pink and gray backpack onto the conveyer belt made me starting reminiscing of all those years of Back to School Shopping. Such excitement! So many fresh, shiny new items! So many fresh shiny new lists, rules, regulations, requirements and whopping price tags. Wait. What was my point? Oh right, I don’t miss that at ALL!

Now, my kids drive themselves to Super Target, Staples, or the campus bookstore and buy their own stuff. The whopping price tags are still there but not me and I don’t miss it!

I don’t miss the all too common Bus Stop Mommy ritual known as Stuff the Backpack With Last Minute Almost Forgotten Items As Bus Is Stopped At Corner.  Like lunch money or snacks. Or better yet, after a few weeks, pulling out a hermetically sealed packaged of smashed peanut butter crackers.

I mean, what a waste of a perfectly good snack.  If they were broken Cheezits or Cornflakes I could at least toss them with some butter and recycle them into the Universal Crunchy Topping used to disguise vegetables at the dinner table.  But peanut butter sandwich cracker crumbs?   I suppose I could mix in colored sprinkles and tell the kids it’s new a gourmet ice cream sundae topping.  I hate to throw them away; they’re still sealed in the bag you know.  Perfectly edible.  Cost good money.  Starving kids in Haiti and all…

I don’t miss discovering in the deep dark depths of backpacks, damp, stinky feet-smelling, two week old PE clothes.  Oh sure, during his last couple years of middle school, my son became more responsible with the care of his gym clothes.  Instead of leaving them in his backpack, he plunked them on the kitchen counter, then proceeded to announce their arrival before foraging the pantry for food. The day his clothes started making the extra six steps to the laundry room was the day I dropped to my knees, bowed up and down before him, his laundry and the kid he brought home that day and wailed, “I’m not worthy!  I’m not worthy!”

Said son is now a university student living at home and I still don’t have to worry about clothes mildewing in his backpack. He keeps all his dirty clothes upstairs (I bought him a hamper in the form of a jumbo galvanized trash can with tight fitting lid) until he hauls them down to the laundry room. And yes, he sorts, washes, dries, folds, hangs and puts away all his clothes. I don’t have to see, smell or touch a thing. (Call me. He’s available for rent.)

I did see him shove some peanut butter crackers in his backpack the other morning on his way out the door. Some things don’t change, I guess. No, I take that back. I’m not going to stick my hand in those deep dark recesses to find out if he actually ate them.

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