Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to get things ready for the new school year, which is only a few more weeks away. Now that my daughter has moved in with us, it means one more mouth to feed, one more body to buy clothes for, one more brain to buy supplies for, and one more body to wake up and have ready for the daily morning commute to school. Don’t get me wrong, we love our little girl, if that’s what you could call a thirteen year old nowadays. She is our prodigy child, the brains of the family, and the hopeful for a great future, and most likely a shoe-in for college scholarships. With that in mind, it is also hard to see that she isn’t as little as we perceive her to be. Long gone are the days of Barbie’s and Bratz dolls, and rolling in like thunder, are the days of boys, rock-n-roll, and clothes I think we had worn when we were that age. When they were all in their pre-teens, and in their adolescence, it was easy to buy clothes and shoes for them, as well as school supplies. One trip to Wal-Mart or similar stores, and we could find everything they needed; jeans, shirts, jackets, and shoes or sneakers. Me, personally, hate the fact that the older they get, the more complicated it is to get these things. The older they get, the more opinionated they get. No longer can we just go and buy clothes for them. Now we have to take them with us, because anything we buy is bound to be the wrong thing, or not cool, or in. The shoes are the wrong style, the jeans are too loose, or too tight, and for God's sake, that shirt is lame! And for some reason, even though the school sends a paper with a list of what is needed for the coming school year, they always come home after the first day with a list of a hundred other items they will need. The other thing that gets to me is the fact that Wal-Mart and similar places are taboo and to be avoided at all costs, at least according to the kids. Instead we are to bus them to places like Hot Topics or GAP, where a pair of, well, I guess fashionable, jeans can run into triple digits. As for the T-shirts, well, I never thought I would pay more than $10 bucks for one, but yet I find myself shelling out $20 to $40 for a shirt that doesn’t fit right to me, and has a picture or logo from some cartoon character I’ve never heard of. "Dad, I can’t believe you don’t know who that is, everyone knows that!” is the usual conversation as we patrol each and very isle in the small store. Who knew you could pack that much crap into a living room size space. Not to mention, every employee as well as patron, looks like a character from some sappy vampire movie. I can’t help but laugh and think of the Emo kids from South Park cartoons. So, as usual I cave in, and find myself at the register purchasing jeans with more zippers on it than my entire closet full of jeans and jackets, and a few shirts with weird characters and slogans that make no sense to anyone over the age of 20! Oh, and don’t forget the accessories, like the off color and bold belts and wrist bands, and the fashion buttons with more slogans and unknown characters. But wait, "Dad, I need some of these elbow length, fingerless gloves to go with my clothes!” Just when I think it’s over, we have to go to the other stores, for the other kids, and continue the entire process all over, this time with different tastes in fashion and likes. The only thing that keeps me feeling sane with some kind of control, is the fact that our littlest one is still little enough, and young enough for us to do the shopping, all we have to do is ask, "Do you want the blue one with the robot, or the green one with the shark?", or something similar to that, and shoes are even easier, we just pick the ones we like, and he picks the ones he likes out of that. He doesn’t care about the brand or the cost, all he cares about is the design and/or whether or not it lights up or has his favorite character on it. And the school supplies are easy enough; a few pencils, some non-toxic glue, crayons, and sometimes safety scissors and a pencil case. Most of the time, we just use the same supplies from last year, since they really never used it. Last year when our little one brought his school stuff home, his crayons were never opened! Apparently the teacher had enough for the entire class, as well as the other supplies we purchased. He goes to a special school, as he is hearing impaired, and wears hearing aids, so his classes were small; no more than 6 kids. So the teacher had everything they needed, or purchased it herself. So we couldn’t figure why they wanted us to buy the same things, especially if they weren’t going to use them. Oh well, like I said, it saved us from having to purchase them again, as we just put them in the closet until the next year, as he has all the same things at home. I swear we have the biggest box of crayons in the world. For some reason kids in this house don’t want to use a broken or incomplete box of crayons, or they favor one color, like black and purple, which causes us to buy an entire box of new crayons for just those colors, then the extras all go into the box, which by the way grows about 100 crayons per year, so you figure three kids at 100 crayons a year for the last three years, including stocking stuffers, and summer coloring days. I think the pencils are getting the same way, but in their case, we find them in every drawer and shelf in the house. Funny how you can always find an unsharpened pencil when you need a pen! And no sharpener in sight? Of course, no paper either! I swear we can buy the kids a million notebooks, but for some reason they take all the printer paper and non-school paper. Why? Who knows, maybe because it’s not theirs, or not conventional, or maybe it’s just because it ours.As for my wife, Brook, I’m not sure how she feels about it all. I assume that she agrees with most of my thoughts on the matter, as we spend countless hours talking about these things. I know I always welcome her opinion and feedback, God knows I can’t do it by myself, especially when it comes to our daughter. It’s funny, that it doesn’t matter what age they become, women are always complicated in certain ways. Maybe it’s because I’m a man, and not allowed to understand all that it is that makes them so needed, wanted, and loved. In any case, hopefully, she will post her thoughts on the matter, and help out those other men and fathers who are in the same predicament, or just as confused.