I now refer to it as the flair pen incident of 2006. My oldest child was starting first grade, so I dutifully took all three children (ages 6, 3, and 1) to the store to buy school supplies. Consulting the list, I checked off items one by one: folders, paper, notebooks, pencils...and then I came to item number 175: black flair pens. Unfortunately, Target was sold out. So the four of us went to Office Max. Also sold out. And the grocery store. Also sold out. And Walgreens. Also sold out. And Carlson's art store. Also sold out. I think I finally ordered them online and paid exorbitant shipping costs because obviously my child needed 2 flair pens for her first day of school. It was on the list, and I was a rule follower.
Fast forward one year. I had learned a few things, among them that half the things on the school supply list don't get used, or are put into the teacher's cabinet for general classroom use and they really don't go through 30 boxes of dixie cups. 30 boxes of kleenex, probably. Flair pens were on the list again in 2007, and we sent in the ones that had come home at the end of first grade, having been used once. In 2009 I ordered a jumbo-sized box of 30 flair pens that we're still working our way through.
So no, Alison, I am not going to go shopping to three or four stores looking for an expandable that has eight pockets. All the ones at Target had seven, and I think you can make do. Double up on subjects if you need to. And no, Bethany, I don't think we need to send in four composition books for gym class on the first day. When you've used the first two I'll buy you another one. And Meredith, the list may say Ticonderoga pencils, but I think Dixon-Ticonderoga is close enough. I am never again dragging three children to five or six stores looking for flair pens. I've learned my lesson: close enough is good enough.