Woman vs. School

I couldn’t sleep on Tuesday night – it was one of those noisy South African nights where the local dogs are barking and the winds are blowing, making the wobbly bits of the house thump and squeak. In the end I moved to the sofa and chatted with Rex the dog. He was grumpy on account of having his nuggets chopped off that same day. We snuggled up but sleep was still elusive.

Why was I so wide awake? I’m fortunate to not be stressed out or in pain. I was quite happy really, watching the shadows of the leaves on the ceiling – the moon was really bright. Then I realised: I was too SMUG to sleep. It was the night before school and I was experiencing Self-induced Insomnia caused by Impossible Smugness.

It is a year today since we were trekking around this unknown city sourcing everything for school in one day. This year there were a few bits to buy for sure, but mostly the preparation involved me sitting on 3 different beds last week with a cup of coffee, asking ‘Do your shirts still fit? Have you found your socks? Can you hang this UP instead of scrunch it behind the bin?’ etc. And most things were fine : three cheers for being a short family that hardly grows! Hip hip…?

So I lay on the sofa during Tuesday night and waited until morning. “Come on then school”,  I thought, “give me your best shot”.

I was pretty sure we had everything. Blue pens, black pens, green pens, mathematics sets, felt tips, white boards and markers, coloured card, coloured paper. Scissors, staplers, 30cm ruler, hi lighters… 200 tissues (?? for crying 200 times??), fine liners for outlining artwork, pritt sticks, sharpeners, FOOD!! And money for more food…Oh, and more money in an envelope for art supplies and worksheets…

Rugby shorts, hockey sticks, mouth guards, water bottles, lunch boxes. Swimming stuff, goggles, towels, hats. Sunscreen, sun hats, track suits, winter socks, summer socks, winter blazers, ties, hair-ties, squash racquet, squash shoes (seriously…??). Atlases, hardback homework diaries, dictionaries, an Afrikaanse-Engels Woordeboek…

I know what a basher is. I know what ski pants are. I know the boys don’t REALLY have to wear speedos. I know were to buy virtually anything else that the schools could demand. I am on their email lists. I know where to park.

I have ready-made book covers and plastic sleeves ready for all the covering of 20-30 exercise books for each child. (Last year we were cutting up wrapping paper and sellotape because we didn’t know this trick – ugh.) The self-adhesive labels are all ready to go.

British people don’t like smug people. We love to watch arrogant people fail, or to pull down those who are successful. So as an British person, I should probably have punched myself in the face on Tuesday night.

Well the next day arrived at last and somehow we were late. The kids bickered. There were traffic jams. I wore my pyjama top over some jeans. We hadn’t morphed into an advert family after all. But I will always have that one night where I felt like we might…..


You can read about last year’s school preparations by clicking here. We know the people who own that cafe now – they are Finn’s friend’s family!

Ski pants = little shorts to be worn underneath a summer dress. Also called ‘hot pants’ – ha ha!

NO I didn’t name everything this year

Paragraphs 5&6 – this is why my children don’t walk to school. It’s quite a weight once you add in text books (covered in plastic of course, by yours truly!)

200 tissues – for WIPING DOWN THE WHITE BOARD!! Well done Sherlock Colin.