Friday, September 08, 2006

Is there any week quite as stressful

as the one in which the kids go back to school in September?

Inevitably it begins with the 'shock' discovery that project work given in July to complete over the summer holiday has not in fact been started upon. Parental inquests are conducted, teenage excuses are made, threats are issued and sulks commence (on both sides) before the last minute school work is begun.

Then there is that horrible moment when you realise each one of your three children needs new school shoes. You mention this fact to the children and they say "And we also need..." and reel off a list as long as the legs on your 6 foot 5 inch son for whom you need somehow to find new trousers that will not end six inches above his ankles.

You weigh up the options. Is it worse to make more than one shopping trip by taking them seperately or to risk taking them all together? I now have the definitive answer to that one...taking them all together is worse. I know that because that was the option I went with.

I took them to the shopping mecca that is Milton Keynes. Within half an hour the two boys are sorted. They both go with the first pair of shoes they try on, and thanks to Gap recognising that some men do grow to the dizzy heights my two boys have reached, we also have trousers that fit well. My daughter needs shoes and a school bag. It still distresses me to recall that it was two and a half hours before she had even seen a pair of shoes she would contemplate trying on. By this time I would happily have paid good money for the least suitable pair of shoes for school Milton Keynes could throw at us just so she had something to put on her feet but it wasn't even that we were having inter-generational disagreements about 'suitability'. She simply did not like any of the shoes we saw. You may try to imagine how pissed off my sons, both trailing after us, were by this time, but you probably couldn't come close to the sheer degree of Pissed Offness from which they were suffering. And then at last... thank god...a pair were identified and purchased at speed. The fact that they were at least one size too big did not deter me...in-soles could be bought elsewhere and it was definitely worth it. Now if only by that time we had seen a bag she liked all would have been well but obviously she had seen no such thing. It is hard to believe, unless you have witnessed it, just how many bags in Milton Keynes are unworthy of my daughter's consideration.

So when essential school items are eventually bought you start worrying about how they will ever be able to get up on school mornings bearing in mind just how late they are all going to bed, never mind how late they are getting up in the 'morning' so you embark on a totally useless nagging programme. "You really must get an early night or you will NEVER get up for school in 5/4/3/2/1 (delete as appropriate) days time."

The Night Before First Day Back arrives and with it the parental demands that they get everything together in preparation for the next day so that we don't have to panic in the morning. You would think, what with this being my 13th first day of the school year as parent of a school child, that I would long since have grown out of imagining this might actually work in practice. Let's think. School ties? Check. P.E. kits? Check. Pens, pencils etc? Check. No, I admit the idea that my daughter, having taken off the bra she scarcely needs the night before would be unable to find it (or the other one she possesses either) a mere eight hours later, had not occurred to me but inevitably that was the crisis that hit this household with the force of a hurricane yesterday morning. In vain did I suggest that if she kept her school sweatshirt on, no one but no one would be any the wiser. Eventually I found the damn thing wrapped up in a tee shirt disgarded from the previous days wear, but not before I had given them all the "Why oh why oh why can't you lot get organised before leaving the house like I always do?" Where do they get it from?

There is absolutely no need for my children to learn that when I arrived at work yesterday I realised I had left my very essential work diary sitting on our kitchen table, or that in spite of remembering I was going to the gym straight from work I had not actually managed to pack my trainers with the rest of my gym kit.

12 comments:

Reidski said...

AAAAh, that night before the first day back - it resulted in my boy on msn at 11pm and point-blank refusing to get off. No, of course we didn't start rowing ...

SimonHolyHoses said...

Oooooh.

So very true, J.J.

And just how is it that kids can lose stuff in minutes?

Moo said...

I remember those days well, my mum screaming at me the night before to get my bag ready and me screaming at her that I'll do it in the morning!!

I used to love going shopping for new school equip, mind you most of it was either lost or stolen in the first week back!!

Anxious said...

I honestly can't remember it being a problem from my point of view when I was at school. My mother may have seen things differently, however...

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Thanks for this glimpse into the pre-school year behaviours of a typical English family. That's the schoolkids! What about the poor, undervalued, heroic, selfless and handsome/beautiful teachers... Ten pints of Tetleys at the boozer, draft out a suicide note, leave suit at dry cleaners, check the lottery numbers with more fervent desire than any other worker could possibly muster, shake head in disbelief.... "I don't want to be there!" kick the DfES doorstop folder you half meant to read... Oh woe is me - it's a dog's life in the English teaching profession!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

P.S. You never mentioned that Reidski was an oarsman. Light or dark blue?

bondbloke said...

Never mind the horrendous thought of taking the kids shopping! I am impressed that you acytually managed to return from Milton Keynes (note to self wash out mouth with soap and water) people have gone there and have never been seen again...

Shooting Parrots said...

I absolutely feel for you. I had only one 15 year old son to buy shoes for, some art supplies and a new school bag. We got home two and a half hours later and we didm't even find a bag.

Elle said...

Mine may be just 8 years old but your story could have been mine. The boy was fine, done and dusted in 15 minutes flat.

But then....

How can an eight year girl old have such a strong opinion about EVERYTHING??!

Kate said...

I sympathise :-( That sounds just like my experience in the days leading up to school re-opening. I took me the best part of two hours to find school shirts that would fit a boy over the age of 8yo - do these people not realise the school leaving age is 16/18! My 16yo still doesn't have a bag he likes, and is using his brothers, said brother goes back to college on Tuesday and wishes to use his bag, so guess what I will be doing tomorrow.

J.J said...

Apologies for lack of proper replies at this moment but I am about to be kicked off the laptop and the unfinished project is the reason given for the urgency.

Did want to say Hi to you Kate and thanks for commenting.

And also that Yorkshire Pudding should write his side of this story on his blog where more people will see it - it is very funny!

J.J said...

Reidski, surely your boy is far too adorable to ever wind you up???

Simon, it is simply astonishing how rapidly they can mislay their belongings.

Moo, yes - I think it must be in the terms and conditios you accept when you become a mother - you WILL bellow at your kids the night before they go back to school - and you WILL get yelled at back!

Anxious, I kind of think she just might see it just a little differnetly!

Yorkshire Pudding, see earlier comment - but he is an Oxford man through and through.

Bond bloke, I am made of tough stuff and can handle anything MK can throw at me.

SP, we should form a support group for parents who need to buy their kids school bags!

Laura - only 8? Oh dear!!!!!

Kate, it drives me crazy that in the one week when everyone needs to buy school clothing, the shops run out of every size you need. It happens every year and you owuld have thought at least one retailer woould have got supply and demnad sorted out by now???