Starting School: The Pitfalls of Being Small

I started this post a day short of ending our mega eight week summer break. It wasn't quite eight weeks, but no-one quibbles with mums who've been on summer holidays for so long they can't remember what winter looks or feels like but just wishes it would hurry up anyway. After eight weeks, my official mantra to the kids (and occasionally, apologies, to the adults around me) was: Don't argue with me; Please don't all talk at the same time (because I exceeded my week's intake of Nurofen on like, Monday); and please, let's all try NOT to sweat the small stuff ...

That said the holidays were mighty fine and I think we fitted in enough fun things that everyone feels they made the most of it: read lots of good books, watched way too much television, swam in sunshine and rain, and ate enough ice cream to exceed the yearly intake of at least a dozen people.

We thought we were so ready for BIG SCHOOL, which may prove that we'd seen just a bit too much sun. A few days out I casually opened the bag of Size 6 boys uniforms I had been accumulating over several years for Arch. Arch my newly turned 5 year old who still wears size 3 jeans. ACHHHHHHHH! Wincing I made myself put an urgent call for size 4 items on FB. Nothing like outing yourself as an incompetent Mum BEFORE school has even started. Yep, tick that off the bucket list.

So it turns out that size 4 is really hard to find these days. Some stores had size 5 but its difference to size 6 was negligible. The size 6 shirt on Arch resembled a bed sheet and the shorts only just stayed up if he stayed perfectly still and didn't breathe in. So not going to work. Actually it did work for a hilarious dress rehearsal, and then the shorts fell down. Doh.

My lovely Mum, otherwise known as "the sewer" (by that I mean someone who sews, not a drainage system, right? Sorry Mum) swooped in to do the impossible. Yes, she bought a size 7 long sleeved shirt at the shops, and cut it down to a size 4 short sleeved shirt. Then she cut the crest off a size 6 shirt that was looking pretty grey (they're supposed to be white, sadly) and stitched it on to the front pocket. The result can be seen in the photo. Brilliant. A friend lent us shorts. Another friend rang from the shops where she'd found two size 4 shirts for $10! Score!!

Found at Kmart - only $7!
Another day went past, the first school day drawing ever closer. I was loving my friends, and even the world again. My fab new poster art (above!) from Kmart no longer seemed to be mocking me. Then the three older three kids decided to declare, in unison, that their school shoes felt too small. Yes, those same shoes that eight weeks earlier had been declared fine. Were. Suddenly. Too. Damn. Tight. All of them.

Sometimes as Mums, we have no words.


Apologies to all of those people I may have randomly shouted at as I took EVERYONE to the shops and trawled for reasonably priced and sized black school shoes. Which it turned out half of Sydney was also doing on that day. All my bargain hunting powers came to naught as price became irrelevant as we searched in vain for shoes that fit. Some hours after that, we experienced a text book debacle that made for a very stressful Australia Day. But I'll spare you the details.

Suffice to say that by the time School Day #1 came around, I was the one giving loud fake laughs with glazed eyes to anyone who came within 20 metres of me. Days later I ran into a school Mum at the shops who cheerfully asked me what teachers my three primary-aged kids had. I stared at her blankly. Sorry, I really couldn't tell you - I had to reply. But they're all happy! We're all really really happy.
(I think she started backing away at this point.. probably a wise move.)

To alleviate the trauma of my youngest beginning school and the stresses of the older three returning to school, I decided to distract myself at the movies. In retrospect, a comedy or something feel-good would have been a good choice. Instead I chose the often traumatising: Suffragette.

Have you seen it? The struggles of women in early 20th Century England are brought to life in harrowing detail. Carey Mulligan is quite brilliant. The commitment and sacrifice of so many brave women to getting equal representation was immense and magnificent. The living conditions, battles for survival and for basic rights to fair pay and their own children were sobering and heart-breaking. It's easy to forget this part of Western world history that occurred less than a century ago. For significant parts of the world the fight is ongoing.

Easy watching it may not have been. But it was a great way of gaining perspective on my everyday life. Made me so thankful for the many blessings in my life: healthy happy kids and money for school shoes being just some of the big and small blessings that I take for granted every day.

Hope your new starts this year have been full of fun and favour! 


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