I seemed to be in denial about the day before school.
I was lying in bed at 7am, half listening to the little people screaming over whose turn it was on the iPad and half dreaming I was in an episode of Made In Chelsea (and not as an old person), when I was rudely awakened by my friend’s text message pinging through.
It read “Enjoy the last day of the hols!!” followed by an abundance of teen emojis including a smiley face, hand clapping, three glasses of red wine, three of white, three of beer, five of champagne, a thumbs up and that random angry red man with the goatee and pointy nose – not sure what he was in reference to.
I was suddenly reminded that this wouldn’t be another lazy day. I needed to get up and start the pre-school prep. I needed to engage my brain as to what was needed.
School bags were a good start but where on earth were they? No idea. They had been nowhere to be seen for weeks.
I finally located them in the playroom where they had been flung in gay abandon (by me) on the last day of term, and they had made their way under the sofa, now smelling a touch foosty.
The eldest daughter’s seemed to have developed a strange poo-like stain on it – that’d be the rotten apple that had been fermenting in there for seven weeks then, but nothing a bit of Febreze wouldn’t fix.
No sign of the pencil cases however.
I screeched at the middle little S.H.I.T. (possible slight overreaction in hindsight) “how COULD you lose your pencil case?”
Let me point out that it wasn’t just any old pencil case but a special Smiggle one, no less, in the form of a big, rubber pineapple that smelt of cola bottles. Not forgetting the delicious smelly rubbers inside – I admit I may be scarred from the fact that Nicola Jones wouldn’t let me touch her smelly rubber collection back in 1982. I know that may sound dodgy, but oh, how I coveted the chocolate swiss roll. Anyway I digress…
Middle child seemed far less concerned or attached to said pencil case or rubbers than me, and proceeded to unload all the tatty artwork and love letters from her friends from last year and announced she wanted to keep it all. No way.
Meanwhile the eldest had counted the pockets on her backpack and it would seem that there were less than on her sister’s and therefore she would like a new one. Hilarious! (She’d still not noticed the poo stain thankfully).
So, no pencil cases, but as a teacher I have incredible inside knowledge that they do, in fact, have pens and pencils at school. But try telling this to Smiggle obsessed girls.
Then I realised, of course, that they all needed new school shoes. That should be a fairly straightforward exercise but once we got to every single shoe shop in the area, it became apparent that all other parents had thought about this days ago. Anything sensible and remotely attractive was sold out.
We ended up with some naff slip ons for the eldest daughter. She loves them. I hate them.
Middle daughter got some fetching ones with diamonds encrusted on them as well as dolls hidden in the heels. Why?
The boy was easy as boys’ shoes are generally all black, ugly and sturdy so that took two minutes.
Phew, job done.
Once home again I knew there was something else we needed to dig out…. Aha, the gym kits!
That shouldn’t be a problem I thought, until I discovered that Eldest’s gym kit consisted of most items which she had had since reception. She is going into year five (I do now recall her complaining last year that her T-shirt was a little tight).
When she eventually managed to squeeze it over her great big noggin, the crop top it had become appeared to be cutting off the circulation in both her arms.
Middle child’s was not much better but it would seem that crop tops are not a bad thing in the world of tween fashion. ‘Epic’ in fact, apparently.
All I needed to do now was make sure my laundry marker was working for the dreaded labelling. Which, of course, it wasn’t. So the trusty permanent marker pen would have to do.
I tried to convince the teary children as I put them to bed that their school tops were not, in fact, ruined and “soooo embarrassing” – it would actually be handy that their names (in big capital letters) were now visible from the outside too as the industrial strength black pen had gone right through the material. There may be some new teachers who didn’t know who they were but they could just twirl around, and their names could be read from the backs of their tops – albeit backwards. Perfect.
Thankfully permanent pen disaster was all forgotten by the next morning as they excitedly walked to school with the buzz of the new term.
Once I’d said goodbye to them all, they rushed off to see their long lost friends and I was left standing alone.
My eyes welled up with tears (as they always do at this time of year) as I realised how quickly they’re all growing up, and I also realised that I have to look at those 80’s slip ons for the next ten months.
And I went on my half merry, half lonely way, back to my empty nest.
As featured in Huffington Post UK.