Monday, September 15, 2008

"Back in My Day..."

(Feel free to imagine me forty years older uttering that phrase while only wearing my upper dentures.)

Back when I was in school, we were issued books that were -- horrors! -- used by other kids the year before. We took them home and were required to cover them with either wrapping paper, glossy covers bought at the school book store, or cut-up paper bags. In my house, the cut-up bags were the book cover of choice.

Precious Daughter doesn't get used books. Nope. She gets a rather large collection of paperback workbooks for all of her subjects. For Math, Reading, and Religion, she gets a main workbook paired with a thinner practice workbook. The main books are huge and heavy, and I'm quite glad they remain in her desk. For those subjects, the smaller practice books are the ones that regularly come home.

The kids are required to cover all of these books, their folders, and their copybooks (the kind with stitching holding the pages in) with clear Con-Tact paper.

If you've never used Con-Tact paper, you're lucky. On a normal, hard surface (like a shelf), the stuff is difficult enough. Yeah, you can "reposition" it if you're a little off, but measuring, cutting, and sticking it to a bunch of soft-cover books (without air bubbles!) is a royal pain in the patootie. By the time I cover five or six books, my hands ache.

These young whippersnappers don't appreciate how my generation worked to cut, fold, and fit those paper bags to our books. We couldn't see the fancy, colorful covers of our books through the paper bag; we had to write the book title on the front so we could tell which one it was!

For nearly two weeks now, I've been on the hunt for clear Con-Tact. I used the last bit from last year to cover the first six books she brought home. I probably have another fifteen to twenty items to cover. I've visited every likely store (and several unlikely out of sheer desperation) within, probably, fifteen miles of my house, including, but not limited to, two each of Target, Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, and at least four K-Mart stores. This doesn't count stores that I checked on a whim when the opportunity arose between jobs.

Nobody has this junk in stock. I can get white, "stainless steel," and assorted marbled patterns, but no clear. (On a side note, nearly every roll of white was ripped open and crimped at the edge by other parents searching for clear. Why those idiot people didn't read the label on the roll is beyond me. Who's going to buy a ripped-open roll?)

I ended up ordering it online last night, but it's going to take seven to ten days to arrive. Now that I've agreed to pay an online price plus shipping, how much do you want to bet that the local store shelves will be restocked this afternoon?

The crappy thing is that, once again, I had to send Precious Daughter to school with a note explaining why her books still aren't covered. I was so tempted to cover them in paper bags, but I was afraid she'd have a nervous breakdown. She was very upset this morning. I told her that if Mrs. Melman had a problem with it, ask her to speak with me.

My thinking is that if the school is so crazy about this stuff, they ought to supply it (what the heck, they include dozens of other things in the tuition) or at least make it available for us to purchase through them instead of chasing our tails across three counties to find it.


Cort said...

I'm really annoyed with Precious Daughter's school, and I'm not even experiencing this firsthand. As a fellow CR, I'm trying to figure out where in the world you find the time for all this running about for random items. You rock!

Coffee Bean said...

Hmmmmm... I suddenly want a glass of wine.

--V said...

I woke up this morning with the thought: what about clear book tape? 3M sells it, it probably does the same job as contact paper, and is a more manageable size (I think).

I'm assuming it's available for the general public. We buy it in bulk in the library.

Odd that my unconscious mind has been chewing on this for days, no?

--V said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
--V said...

Me again. Office Depot carries it. I tried to post the link I found from Office Depot online, but it's too long. I'll email it to you.

Anonymous said...

stacy says:I know what you mean about ogre teachers. Just sitting in at a kids concert around parents you don't know who talk to each other about teachers is eye opening! So far I don't have to worry until 3rd grade. And I forgot to write down the teachers name. Then again, I don't want bias Willow in anyway. She generally gets along with lots of people.

We lucked out, we don't have to cover books yet.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm just not getting the point of covering the books.