Dear Second-Grade Teaching Team,

1. I love you.

2. I mean that. I know that you probably hear that a lot, from your spouses and children who live with you, and from your bosses who don’t pay you a living wage but demand that you sit through all-day meetings about Focusing Positive Energy and The Future Of Active Learning Strategies in the week before school starts while you are thinking about how you are going to scrounge up an extra $6.59 for one more bottle of hand sanitizer before the school year starts.

3. I love you. Let’s establish this at the beginning: you + me = BFFs for the next nine months. I will be your Hand Sanitizer Supplier. I will Work That Lunch Duty. I have 10 containers of antibacterial wipes coming your way because We Do Not Want Any Vomit-Three-Days-Nonstop Viruses This Year, Baby. Remember that, because

4. your school supply list makes me want to eat a slice of avocado toast buttered with battery acid.

5. Some of the list I understand. You want four boxes of 24-count crayons? Teachers, remember,

6. I love you.

7. I will buy you four boxes of crayons.

8. The crayons are not the problem.

9. The problem begins with item number two on your fifteen-item list: one “eight-count box of markers” does not exist at the store.

10. I am not the kind of Good Mom who will drive to seven different stores looking for one “eight-count box of markers” before buying them in bulk online.

11. I am not even the kind of Sloppy But Semi-Decent Mom who will go to a second store. This store has boxes of ten markers, and boxes of twenty.

12. It’s Target. I went to Target. I will do a lot of things for you, but I will not go to Walmart.

13. I hope that you enjoy the box of ten markers.

14. The markers are not the end of the problem.

15. Remember that I love you? I do, and have, and always will, but

16. you have got to stop asking for “packs” of pencils.

17. Pencils come in a variety of “packs.” 12-count? You got it. 20-count? Yes. 40-count? It sounds like you are making a really creative 1:24 scale model of the Alamo for which I would definitely like to opt my child out.

18. When I read “12 packs of pencils” on the second grade supply list, I realized that someone with human fingers typed that into a Microsoft Word document, and a small part of my soul exploded like a bottle of glue squeezed by an overly ambitious seven-year-old.

19. If you would tell me how many pencils you wanted, I would buy that many pencils.

20. I really don’t want this to remain a secret, so let me be specific. We’re being honest here. Do you want 12 pencils? You get 12 pencils. You want 40 pencils? Baby, I’m sending in 40 pencils. 237? I don’t care. I will not judge. I will make it happen. The way you love classroom behavior apps is the way I love knowing exactly what my child’s teacher wants so that I can supply it and thereby possibly make you love my child a little bit more than all of the others.

21. I sent you 480 pencils because I didn’t want you to have to buy any and I was also sort of curious about how that would look sitting in my shopping cart.

22. It’s a lot. I’m sorry.

23. I could not find “two packs of skinny yellow highlighters.” I’m sorry about that, too.

24. Teachers, do you know how many varieties of highlighters you can buy? You can buy packs of just fat yellow highlighters or packs of just skinny green highlighters or just skinny pink highlighters but as sure as my second grader will bring home a lunchbox that has overflowed with water from a cup which claims to be Completely Leakproof We Swear On Our Mothers’ Graves, there are no packs of just “skinny yellow highlighters” in this Target which has cut me off from any more coffee because my “tone” is not “ideal.”

25. I bought you a lot of highlighters in many different neon colors.

26. Maybe you can repurpose them as markers?

27. I really love it when you’re specific. One pair of kids’ pointed-tip scissors? Okay, you’re speaking my language now. One 6 × 9 plastic supply box? Oh, baby. One 1-inch white binder with a clear cover? Slip into something a little more comfortable and hold on, I’m heading to (checking the questionnaire you filled out and which the PTA posted to their app, which is different from the classroom behavior app and the school lunch account app) Target (wow, are we twins?) to buy you that gift card I know you really, really love.

28. “Two packs of dry erase markers” is the kind of thing that the Hannibal Lecter of second-grade teachers asks for.

29. I can’t actually tell if this list was made by a human being. I think you might be farming this out to an AI that read a thousand school supply lists and then came up with several word salad entries of “packs” of “things” that students might “need.”

30. A real human being would know how many variables exist within “packs” of dry erase markers. Black? Multicolored? Fat? Skinny? 2? 4? 168?

31. A real human being would not compose a list that would make a 36-year-old woman cry in the Target parking lot when I realized

32. I forgot the 16-count watercolors for art supply.

Pamela Manasco