I don’t need my iPhone display to tell me that September is upon us. You can feel it, see it and even smell it in the air.
If July and August were all about shell collecting for me, then September brings the conker harvest. Memories of going to school with a carrier bag full of conkers and chucking the contents across the playground with an accompanied, “SCRAMBLE!!” (Wouldn’t happen today – the bags are 5p…)
Of all the seasons, Autumn is my favourite as it reminds me of walking to synagogue with my dad to celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year. On our journey, we would look at the change in scenery, spot figs on a neighbour’s tree and I would collect conkers, storing them in his prayer bag to add to my collection at home. (Conkers, not prayer bags…)
You can just ‘smell’ autumn in the air – if I was cryogenically frozen a la Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper’, I could easily sniff out Autumn.
It may also be because there is another distinct smell in the air – that of parental relief that the kids are going back to school, quickly followed by the whiff of panic that a lengthy list of items needs to be bought from the uniform shop and stationers.
With a queue to rival that of ‘Thunder Railroad’, including ticketing and barriers, unfortunately the uniform shop ain’t no Disneyland. And there’s definitely no option to buy fast passes. (I would if I could.) Everyone is treated equally and there is no favouritism.
There is a method of course…
Step 1 – Make a fucking list
Seriously – it’s uniform shopping 101. You have a line of bored, angry, frustrated, irritable people, many of them who would choose the returns queue at Zara over this shit. Make a list and make your time in the shop as quick and painless as possible.
Step 2 – Muster up lots of patience
As Axl Rose once sang, this patience needs to be doled out in bucketloads.Patience with your kids, for other hapless parents and also for the poor staff dealing with your precious darlings who are arguing over the length of their skirt, itchiness of their jumper and the ridiculously oversized track suit.
However, my patience wears thin when you consider that the usual staff count will have been bolstered with ‘holiday staff’. Under normal circumstances, I’m fully willing to give people a chance, but not the uniform shop. I have no shame in offering up the risky-looking temp staff member to the person behind me in the queue. I would much rather wait another few minutes for an experienced member of staff.
The above rule also applies when it comes to buying school shoes. My youngest is ‘full of personality’ when it comes to shoe shopping and only one staff member will be able to fit her with minimal fuss. (She knows who she is.)
Armed with a supply of coppers to keep them occupied at the swirly-whirly helter-skelter charity box, I patiently wait until I get ‘my person’. Job done in just a few minutes.
Step 3 – Choose your branding wisely
Whether you go for sew-in, stick-in, stamp-in or reckless Sharpie daubing, the choice is yours when it comes to labelling it all. I have one friend who goes supersized on her sew-in labels, meaning her kids’ items can be identified from Mars.
Personally, I opt for a mixture of all the possibilities listed above, but just know that I have it on good authority from a teacher friend of mine, that they’re more likely to hand back the easily identifiable stuff, than a biro scribble that has faded in the wash.
There is just so much to do, and we haven’t even covered my favourite part of it all – the stationery.
Much like new toiletries for holiday, there is nothing like filling a new pencil-case with smelly pencils, ridiculous rubbers and highlighter pens that never seem to be used for highlighting anything, just drawing emojis.
I take it as a time to replenish my own home-stock – new sticky tape, glue, pens, post- its…all of which have depleted over the holiday with the amount of arts, craft and the slime factory which was shut down months ago, but I believe is still operating via an underground cell.
The joy of throwing out the pencils that no matter how many times you try to sharpen them, the lead gets stuck in the sharpener. Or the pen that has no lid and has inked up the entire inside of the pencil-case. Colouring pencils that are down to the nub.
And if you were ever in doubt of the correct spelling of the word ‘stationery’…
Stationery – it has an ‘e‘.. as in ‘envelope’. Which is a form of stationery.
(And yes, the use of ‘a’ in the word ‘stationary’ in the blog title is deliberate.)
Good luck to everyone starting new schools. (Particularly those with correctly labelled stuff.) xxx