It should have been a pretty good sign to me that something was seriously wrong with my priorities as my daughter and I rolled up into the school parking lot on a Saturday in August to carpet and wallpaper her locker. I was comforted to know I wasn't the only mom there rigging up lighting and shelving systems. I knew we had crossed a line somewhere, but the smiles on our daughter's faces made it all worthwhile. There is some kind of social status associated with having a top locker and my 4' 5" child had managed to win the luck of the draw. It was difficult installing the tiny motion sensor lamp at the top of the locker and a set of scaffolding would have come in quite handy, but I knew that might have labeled me as "the mom who went too far." I settled for standing on top of a stack of copy paper while we measured, papered, and completed our interior decorating. I'm not sure that my first apartment looked quite as good! Half way into the project we realized that there was simply no room for books and school supplies and wondered if we could rent the locker next to us. Something told me that the answer to that question would be a clear "no." My daughter decided she could just carry her books from class to class, thus defeating the entire reason for having a locker, but.... who could mess up a small studio locker such as this!
I have to admit that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and there must be some kind of genetic imbalance that causes us to do these things. When my son was in fourth grade, he was running a small illegal vending operation out of his locker. I was so proud! He found a tiny vending machine that happened to fit inside of his locker and he sold candy bars and chocolates for bargain prices. He, too, opted to tote his books around on his back so that he could collect his profits each day from his tiny snack bar. It was the motion sensor light that got him in trouble when it came on one dark night as the janitor passed by. Much to his surprise, the janitor used his master key to open the locker only to find that it was not a bomb, but a brilliant small business venture operated by a ten year old boy. The light and the vending operation were quickly removed and the books were returned to their rightful place.
We have always had this problem of using lockers for inappropriate purposes, but prime real estate is prime real estate and when you have a top locker, it just can't be wasted on school books and binders. Of course, the problem we have with school supplies is the large amount we have to be stored. My daughter treats the school supply list like a lost book of the Bible and takes it quite seriously. We are not allowed to deviate from it and must procure every item listed, no matter if it fails to pass the common sense test. This year, all seven teachers listed the need for two boxes of 48 pencils. I realize they simply want to make sure students have enough pencils to get through the day, but we were not going to leave the store without 14 boxes of 48 pencils. We now own 672 pencils. The same rule applied for each item listed and after I spent $200 on school supplies for one child, it became quite apparent that she would also need a small pack-mule to carry all of these items. We also have 120 colored pencils, 64 markers, five packs of Sharpies, 7 two inch binders that total a width larger than her locker, gym clothes, sack lunch and more. I need to rent out an entire bay of lockers to accommodate all of these supplies. I know that after the first few days she'll consolidate everything into one large binder and she'll scrap the six hundred pencils for two cool mechanical pencils that can only be found at some gas station two hours away where her friend got hers. The true cost of school supplies should be around $30 and does not include self contained lighting systems, enough pencils to supply a small mission school or wall to wall carpet. If this madness continues, we may find we have to live in that top locker.