featured image

Christina Antus takes an exasperated look at the end-of-summer ritual of gathering and labeling school supplies.


That’s what the supply list said last year, too.

Yes, this part is in red on the supply list — as if the color is to emphasize the sheer importance of what could happen if you don’t do it.

  • The world will implode.
  • The teacher will be angry.
  • Your child’s supplies will vanish into thin air.

That’s more than 200 writing instruments. Don’t forget the 12 sticks of glue, the three boxes of tissues, the Clorox wipes, book covers, regular glue, scissors, and rogue hairs that may or may not fall off your child’s head in class.

“Dear parents, your child isn’t the only one with brown hair. I cannot possibly be expected to label every hair from every head in this classroom.”

When I asked why, my veteran daughter — who survived the first grade — said it was just in case someone lost a crayon, or it got stolen. Then, the teacher would know who it belonged to.

Makes sense.


“If you stole a crayon,” I asked her, “wouldn’t you peel the label off immediately?”

There was silence as we both stared at each other, processing the advice I had just inadvertently given her for what to do if she ever stole anything.

Not my finest parenting moment.

Seriously though, if one of these kids had the gumption steal a crayon I would think the first thing they would do would be to take off the label — it’s not like they stick anyway. You can’t argue that you are using a crayon that belongs to you if your name is not on the crayon. If you remove the label, there is no name, and the evidence is circumstantial. The teacher would have no choice but to throw the case out.

Acquittal by recess.

Besides if you see you have a missing red crayon, why wouldn’t you just get a new red crayon from one of the other boxes you started school with? It’s not like there’s a shortage of boxes in the classroom, every kid brings four boxes of 24, plus Walmart carries them year-round. If someone needs a crayon badly enough to steal it, immediately followed by destroying the evidence, let them have it.

Let God sort it out. Weeds and wheat.

The worst case scenario is all four red crayons are swiped from my kid, and she’s left with four red-violet crayons. I know it’s a b-list crayon, but beggars can’t be choosers.

“Tell your teacher that the apples in the math tree are pink because they aren’t ripe yet. It’ll be okay, Christmas is coming.”

Last year, I (and every other mom I knew) labeled every pencil, crayon, colored pencil, marker, and every other item that was required. I labeled everything but my kid. And that’s because my label maker ran out of tape and I ran out of label cartridges.

She was on her own.

Now that I see this year my second-grader isn’t required to label every item, but my first-grader still is, I’m wondering what’s going to happen to these supplies in the first grade rooms that every item warrants a label?

  • Are they going into a community bin and each child is left to dive for their labeled crayons to see who can find all their crayons the fastest? Because this is a good idea.
  • Are they being used as currency?
  • Are they doing a crayon lottery?
  • Is stealing this big of an issue with the first-graders?

Anyway, I don’t want to label 96 crayons. Or 36 pencils (that I had to sharpen twice because my three-year-old “helped”). Nor do I care to label 24 colored pencils, 12 glue sticks, 20 markers, and a partridge in a pear tree. Yes, I’m lazy. But also, do you know what happens when you label 96 crayons?

  • You waste an hour or more of your life that you’ll never get back.
  • You’ll get two of those boxes back at the end of the year, unused, with a pile of labels at the bottom of the box because they all fell off.
  • You'll get carpal tunnel.
  • You'll be pre-qualified if taking crayons out of the box and putting them back in ever becomes an Olympic sport.
  • Your kids will help with only the crayon colors they like — so, they’ll label six crayons.

I’m not doing it this year.

In the words of the great Billy Idol, with a rebel yell, I’ll cry no, no, no!

(I know, it's "more! more! more!" — just roll with me).

I’m not worried about the repercussions from not labeling every single crayon. What’s the worst that will happen? I’ll get an email saying that I didn’t do it? Someone will steal the entire box (which is also labeled), and I’ll have to buy more crayons? That’s fine. I’m an Amazon Prime member. I’ll get a 12-pack of 24 for $11.00. Sure, it’s a terrible deal, but it covers the "free" two-day shipping (there’s no such thing as free).

I'll even donate all 12 packs to the classroom. Heck, I'll buy 24 packs.

Do you know why?

No, it's not because I'm a nice person.

It's because I'm lazy and it's faster to order crayons with one click and drive them to the school than to label them all.

Seriously, if someone needs crayons badly enough to steal them, let them have them.

Weeds and wheat.

Do you know what happens when you label 96 crayons? #backtoschool #catholicmom

Copyright 2020 Christina Antus
Image: Pixabay (2017)