Thursday, January 14, 2010

Death by backpack

Behold the backpack.

It is a thing of great utility, and yet it can also be the black hole of death, where old tuna sandwiches and yogurt cups can go to die.

In elementary school, you sometimes can see the kids pulling a rolling backpack, undoubtedly because their mothers don't want them to carry the weight of a small elephant or killer whale on their backs, lest they grow up slightly bent.

That behavior totally stops dead after leaving the shelter of grade school for the horrors of middle school or junior high.

That rolling backpack becomes ...

*insert music of doom*

SOCIAL DEATH.

Do NOT be caught dead dragging around a backpack on a stick. You will find yourself dumped in a trash can, or pants'd, or some other charming thing that middle-schoolers (and older kids too) like to do to each other.

But if you're REALLY a fashionista, the idea of an actual backpack goes away as well.

It becomes a "tote bag."

So instead of equalizing the weight of textbooks and binders across your slouching, slumping, aching back, you shove it in a purse-like tote that you carry on one shoulder. Now, THAT'S great for your posture.

The Roo-girl has used a series of bags over the years, some bigger, some smaller, some that actually held her school stuff, some that didn't.

This year, her second year of high school, the bag is smaller than usual. And wouldn't you know, her schedule this year is a hotbed of extra books, workbooks and binders.

None of which actually fit in her "book bag."

So she carries them in her arms.

On cheer practice days, she also carts around a second bag with her practice clothes and cheer shoes.

Sometimes it takes her five minutes to collect her junk to be able to get out of my car in the school parking lot in the mornings. (Hey, it's hard to juggle all that stuff AND your Starbucks cup, ya know?)

I laugh at her and offer her a rolling backpack.

She sneers, knowing that social death is a fate worse than bad posture and disorganization.

But here's what cracks me the heck up.

I work at a big company now. The halls are filled with lawyers, scientists, marketers, doctors.

All of them dragging something that looks like this:

Social death?

Maybe. We ARE talking about some potential nerds here.

But successful?

Totally.

14 comments:

Karen said...

Something tells me that the ones pulling the wheeled briefcases at the workplace are the ones who got pants'd at school, and still carried on. If that's the price of success, I guess it explains why I'm a SAHM and not a lawyer.

Burgh Baby said...

True dat. Practical wins over cute once money is involved.

Jaina said...

I can't imagine having to go back to carrying a backpack laden down with heavy books. Yikes. Poor Roo, her bags probably weigh more than she does!

songbird's crazy world said...

OMG, I can relate! Neither of my girls carried a backpack after 5th grade...it was always a tote bag, and a duffel for cheer or dance stuff.

Suzanne said...

The rolling tote bags are ALL OVER both of my college campuses! In a couple of years, she'll want one again.

Just not one with the care bears or Hannah Montana!

HalfAsstic.com said...

Good grief, the measures we went to to avoid social stigma when we were in school! Of course I have to agree that it wasn't NEARLY as stupid at what there kids do now! Oooooh, Noooo! Not NEARLY! ;-)

Mr Lady said...

Please say you're kidding.

I got my son THE Fox backpack. The one I'm embarrassed to share the price of with you. Two days into junior high, he informed me that they "weren't allowed" to carry backpacks and he'd be requiring one of those string-bound soccor gear bags. You know, for $20 at the Nike store?

I could kill him.

PS: In 6 months, Roo is getting a pocket protector from her Auntie Mr Lady.

Huckdoll said...

That screams lawyer, successful and awesome right at me. I've dreamed of wheeling one of those into the courthouse and I actually got to once (for the boss, meh) and oh, the power of rolling wheel and clip clopping high heel combo. Rawr.

Can't wait for 15 year or so when Roo Girl changes her tune and you tell her this story!

Roger said...

I'm surprised that kids these days can stand up straight at all. When Andy was still in public school he carried every.single.book in his backpack, everywhere! We were like "Dude you have a locker you know." "Yeah, but's it's nowhere near any of my classes." Good point, I guess. Funny thing is, I don't remember ever having a backpack that full when I went to school. I guess I was just a slacker. :)

nikki said...

I still carry a backpack to work. Really I'd like to think it's because I'm too cool for a rolling thing, but the reality is I got my backpack on a killer clearance sale.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Janet,
I recently discovered your blog and today, reading over some OLD posts, I discovered you hate the word "panties". So do I!! It is at the top of my list of words never to say. Suffice it to say that I love you and will read you every day.
There, that was easy, wasn't it?
Jenny

Debbie said...

You have this pegged, Janet. I am always amused at what my kids think is horrible yet very successful adults embrace with glee!

Pamela said...

I bought a pack for a granddaughter.. and I had to keep it.

The Duchess of Wessex said...

You bring up a point I have thought about a thousand times... I work at a large corporation, (Got your Hanes on?) and every day I see executives dragging wheeled suitcases/computer bags into the building, through the halls to their pods and out to their cars again at the end of the day. I've often wondered how these things become cool, (and they are considered very cool for the traveling executive here) after university graduation after being so horribly embarrassing after elementary school. I think middle and high schoolers are missing out on an opportunity to look not like nerdy grade-schoolers but future traveling executives!

 
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