Hey kids! It's time to go back to school! (Did you hear that universal sigh of relief from parents who are weary from entertaining bored children all summer?)
But first, let's stock up on stuff: new clothes, new shoes, and school supplies.
Back in the dark ages, shopping for elementary school supplies took about 10 minutes. On the first day of school, we were required to take a notebook (these days they are called "binders") filled with wide-rule paper, and two #2 pencils.
Everything else was provided by the school: large bottles of Elmer's glue that we shared, reams of construction paper, scotch tape, gum erasers, chalk for those ancient slates called "blackboards."
Our hand sanitizer was called "soap," and it was located in the restroom down the hall. (We could be excused anytime we raised our hand. No one ever thought of running amuck.)
I don't recall using markers and highlighters in Miss McLeod's second grade class. However, each student received a fresh box of Crayola's on the first day of school, waiting for us at our desks.
School supplies lists now include such items as ear buds and thumb drives - things that weren't even invented back in the dark ages of my youth.
The Beaufort County School District's generic "suggested" list includes four boxes of 12-count No. 2 pencils. Forty-eight pencils would have lasted all year in Miss McLeod's class!
It's a new age when students must provide their own scissors, paper towels, gallon-size plastic zipper bags (for what?) and hand sanitizer.
Here's another interesting list to scrutinize: the tax-exempt items for the recent Tax-Free shopping weekend (it was held Aug. 4-6 in South Carolina).
On the Department of Revenue website (www.dor.sc.gov), you can find the lists of acceptable items for tax exemption, as well as lists of those that are not exempt.
Computers, backpacks and school uniforms - all manner of clothing, actually - are on the exempt list, as expected. But non-exempt items include computer software, keyboards, briefcases and glasses.
Did you know that you can buy tax-free furs, adult diapers and corset laces, but not a coffee maker or an alarm clock for a dorm room?
You can buy a tax-free shower curtain, but not the hooks to hang it.
You can buy baby crib pads, though - and baby clothes, diapers and bibs. I guess there are some really, really young children going to school!
Some of the items don't even seem to relate to school. You can buy beach towels, but not sunglasses; fishing boots, but not a life jacket; and hunting vests, but not safety goggles.
You could have purchased tax-free skin-diving suits (I hear there's a real need for these in first grade), nightgowns and a bridal gown, but not a catcher's mitt, digital camara or a watch.
Who makes up this list? What exactly are the criteria?
If you have school age children, you're likely done with shopping for supplies for this year. I hope you stocked up on garter belts, earmuffs and waders.
If you don't have children in school anymore, and want to feel a little nostalgic, you could stock up, then donate supplies to any of the nonprofits and businesses that are collecting supplies for families who might need a little extra help.
One good place to start is Bluffton Self Help. Call 843-757-8088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out what is needed.