Another school year has begun and with it a brand new list of necessary school supplies. Even though he’s in Grade 2, this was the first time I had to go shopping for school supplies for Charlie because last year in my “home” country, I opted to do the lazy thing and simply write a cheque for a flat fee. The school, miraculously, took my $40 and provided Charlie with everything he needed. I didn’t have to buy him one crayon.
In the desert, they don’t have flat fees that cover everything. In fact, they have what is termed as “Pay this amount now and then we’ll come back to you later for more and then again, and again and again.” It’s called the never-ending-bill-plan. Take our rent for instance, we paid an entire year’s worth of rent up front (because, generally, that’s how it’s done) and when the valve on the water tank broke, it was up to us to pay for the repairs. “You use the water tank,” was the reason. “But it’s a fixture of the house,” was our rebuttal. “You use the water tank.” End of story. Or the time that the sink backed up and when my knight in shining armour tried to take apart the plumbing underneath to clear it out, we discovered that said plumbing was held together by elastic bands and sealed with plastic bags. Seriously. When my knight couldn’t get the hardware back together (we just don’t have those plastic-bag-sealing-technique classes in the west), we had to call in more support. Again, the bill was our responsibility because “You use the sink.” “But we weren’t the ones to use plastic bags! It’s not our fault!” was our rebuttal. “You use the sink.” Boom. End.
No flat fee. Once you’ve paid, you can most certainly expect to pay again. And maybe even more later.
Last night, at 8 p.m., the family (meaning us) jumped into the car and headed downtown for some good ol‘ school supply shopping. I don’t know why I didn’t review my vocabulary words for things like, “blue plastic folder” or “molding clay” or “crayons” but I didn’t and so a montage of grunting and wild hand motions ensued until the list was complete.
One word that I do know well is the Arabic word for notebook. The kind man brought over a few to show (sidebar: the stationary store is set up in such a way that everything is behind the counter and I must describe what I want in order to get it. Why? Why must this country require me to actually USE the language I’m learning? I just want some freaking CRAYONS! sidebar over) Charlie was delighted to see Superman notebooks and promptly picked out four with different designs.
I, on the other hand, nearly peed my pants when I saw this notebook:
But it gets better:
I couldn’t have said it better myself, frankly. Whenever I really have to go PEE PEE and I finally have the chance to visit the restroom, the words that always sing their way through my mind are, “I LOVE ALL BEAUTEOUS THING THE GREAT HAPPINESS!!”