School Time!

How much is Back-to-School shopping costing you?

#backtoschool #susanstrasser #susanstrasserblog #amwriting

This year, ours cost us about $300.

$200 on new clothes for both kids, $100 total on supplies, and we’re set.

We normally spend half that for clothes, but with Maryland’s tax-free shopping last week, combined with the Child Tax Credit this year, it was too good a deal to not stock up at our local Old Navy store.

Bottom line, my kids are used to getting clothes that we mostly pick out on Amazon. I measure them, we order them, and they come within days. Or a day! It’s like the Sears catalog ordering of my youth, just faster.

Only one problem: my kids still don’t realize what shopping for clothes in a store really means. I’m in my 40s, they’re 6 and 11. So they have a lot of catching up to do with this Mom who grew up in the heyday of retail- the 80s!!!

Even though I had written on the kitchen dry-erase board all week that we were going back-to-school clothes shopping on Saturday, they still seemed surprised when I told them we were going after lunch. I think Hazel, my daughter, had a basic understanding of this late summer rite of passage. but Liam did not. I tried to explain…

“Well, Bud, when it’s time to go back to school, it’s time to get new duds. Go back to class with sass!”


“You want to look snazzy when you go back. It’s a thing.”  As I type this, I realize that I sound like a commercial. But what can I say? Growing up, we always went to the mall for back-to-school clothes shopping.

He listened, but I don’t think he cared much because it wasn’t toys or sugar.

Thankfully, my daughter had a clue that we were getting some outfits, but even she doesn’t understand much beyond graphic tees and shorts. Ugh. Society and the pandemic all have us dressing down just a little too much these days!

We got to the store. As we started browsing, I suggested to Hazel “Hon, how about some skirts or dresses that you could wear leggings underneath?”  And she turned right around and browsed some more.

Now, with Liam I guess my first mistake was asking him what he liked. I decided to not even try any collared shirts because the ones we’ve gotten him in the last two years are rotting in his closet. We thumbed through tables of graphic tees. While he was being too discriminating, I wrestled with sizes for him. Why is every brand different when it comes to sizes? AIGH!  

This past year my 6-year-old finally left toddler sizes. He’s officially in boys! “XS” or “S” (Extra small or Small) Very exciting. But I didn’t know which one, really— I would ask him to “freeze!” to get him to stay still so I could hold up shirts to him but I couldn’t tell, so I would carry both.

“Do you like this one?” I’d ask.

“No,” he’d reply, again.

“Oh, how about Avengers?”

No response.

While he continued looking at every t-shirt on the round table which was stacked with them, I slid hangers of shorts and pants and grabbed smalls and extra-smalls of those. If we were stuck with mostly graphic tees, maybe we could at least get sporty pants and nice athletic shorts.

Soon, Hazel returned and had a few new additions to her collection.

Off to the dressing rooms we went! There was a short line, but thankfully not long.

“Why do we have to try this all on?” Liam asked.

“Because,” I said.

We lucked out and got fitting rooms side-by-side. Liam got off to a rough start, complaining of a sudden belly ache with his first outfit.

“Is it inside your tummy or are the clothes rubbing on it?” I asked.

He said it was inside. We persevered. The tags on every t-shirt were torture for him.

“This is sticking me! Ow! It hurts!” And I pushed them inside the shirt the best I could. Hazel knocked. Her dresses were beautiful. I was excited.

“Cute, hon!” I told her.

And we carried on, one outfit at a time, with Liam vacillating between extra smalls and smalls and Hazel scoring several great outfits for starting 6th grade. When we were almost done, Liam was dancing inside the dressing room with me, whatever stomach issues he’d had before long forgotten. We might have temporarily knocked a mannequin over on our way to the check out and practically melted in the parking lot on the way to our car in the August heat, but: mission accomplished.

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