Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Sound of the End of the Summer

Up and down this fair green land of ours, you can hear the faint sound of glee, tinged with grumpiness, as mothers hand over their last few cents to shopkeepers in exchange for goods that will help the children of this land on their annual 'Back-to-schooling.'

Every year in all sorts of newspapers, big and small, there are researched articles, bemoaning the price of books, uniforms, bags, stationary, shoes (I'm sure I've missed something), totting up the average spend of the 2.2 kid family and making us all have mini-strokes into our Saturday cereals and posh coffees. Other support articles appear on what sort of packed lunches we mothers should try out for our offspring's bored tastebuds (God help the poor wee chap who survived seven years of 'hang sangwiches.')

I laugh in the face of these articles. No-one has the art of Back-to-School as well researched or executed as me. I could wipe the floor with most of the statistics that you'll see in print. Getting six feicers ready for the new school year is one challenge that I relish. My only complaint is that Back-to-School happens during the holidays, making it the most expensive part of the year, matched only by the ferocious spendfest that is Christmas.

You see, I take a certain satisfaction every time I spend money on this ugly-but-necessary-school-badged-fleece, that rare-and-hard-to-buy-school-book: I am buying my way back to a certain (albeit limited) freedom. One that I know the weather will probably support me in too - I call the radiant sunny days that we get in Ireland during September 'Mother's Treats.' Just don't mention the phrase 'Free Education.' That really sets me off!


apprentice said...

What's a hang sandwich missus?
Everything is a marketing opportunity these days isn't it.

YUou should write a spoof piece of your own, I bet it would be good.

Unknown said...

LOL, Apprentice. A 'hang sangwich' is a ham sandwich, as known and loved by all GAA supporters who might bring them with them in olden days to Croke Park, the stadium in Dublin, otherwise known as the mecca of Gaelic football and hurling. They might bring them with them yet!

Group 8 said...

Hi B,
I too am in the throes of the uniform and book buying spree. (Dem schools have me bled dry...) And like you, I have a spring in my step. Soon, so soon, I will have four full hours a day, four quiet hours, to write, edit and dream. Bliss!

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe what a rip off the education 'system' in Ireland is! You pay for bloody everything! My kids in the UK don't even have to pay for their copy books - all supplied...And the uniform I can get for under a tenner from Tesco...ooooh the 'hang sangwich'! Memories of rellies from the country coming to stay over before a big match at Croker...I love your blog makes m laugh, despite my leaning towards gloominess!

Unknown said...

You're almost making me jealous, What Happened... must have a think about writing something during All Ireland Time, which signals the transition in our house from summer sport to winter sport... (Will the Deise beat the Cats; who will slug it out for the All Ireland football final and can Liverpool get their finger out this year?).

WRW, wait til you have them in the staying on later in school stage - sheer bliss! :)

Group 8 said...

Hi B
One of them gets off at 1.30, the other's home by 5, but it's the little un who wants all my attention, so therefore only 4 free hours. Still, I mustn't complain, at least I have those hours!

Unknown said...

That's it - take the good always! I'm looking forward to having a clean house for a few hours longer than I can do in the summer :)

God, when did I turn into Mrs Housewife...?

Rachel Fox said...

Ours went back to school last Tuesday (and had the first bug of the season...a handed on to Wednesday!). I only have one small, easy-to-manage girl and yet the freedom of school days is treasured indeed. To think about something for longer than 5 seconds without the constant interrogation ('mum why can't I fly?' 'mum where is my white top with the blue dog?' 'mum can you get married when you're twelve?'...your holiday poem was on the nail for sure...).

We didn't do a lot of back-to-school shopping (my girl grows very slowly to her eternal disappointment) but she did finally get one of those fancy layered contraptions full of pens and rubbers. She went off to school on a pencil case high...

Unknown said...

Back to school so soon - I am envious of Scottish and English schools that end in July and have them back so soon, here we have all of July and August, and in secondary, all of June!

My ones love their pencil cases, and all the trappings. Thing is trying to keep the pencil cases fully loaded. I have to keep a stationary stash upstairs for when they run out!

Anonymous said...

Reuben's going back in last year's trousers let down so that he doesn't look like M. Hulot any more. And Rosie's starting school in his hand-me-downs plus stuff from the school used uniform shop. She's paraded before us, flushed with pride, and I have smiled tightly and applauded bogusly. (I hate school uniform and what it's all about.)

Unknown said...

I equally hate what the uniform represents: from an individualistic point of view, I hate to see the erasure of personality. However, from the mum point of view, although highly expensive, and not terribly long-lasting (if you're a garsun), they are really practical; I mean, come Saturday you know where your wash should be & if you haven't managed a wash, you imagine the faint stench come Monday, under the teacher's nose...

I am laughing at the Monsiuer Hulot reference :)))

Kay Cooke said...

I think we get the Mother's Treats days in March over here - the Indian Summer days ...

Rebecca said...

Old Black Joe


Gone are the days when my heart was young and gay;

Gone are my friends from the cotton fields away;

Gone from the earth to a better land I know,

I hear their gentle voices calling, "Old Black Joe!"

(Refrain:) I'm coming, I'm coming, for my head is bending low;

I hear their gentle voices calling,

"Old Black Joe!"


Why do I weep when my heart should feel no pain?

Why do I sigh that my friends come not again?

Grieving for forms now departed long ago,

I hear their gentle voices calling,

"Old Black Joe!"


Where are thee hearts once so happy and so free?

The children so dear that I held upon my knee?

Gone to the shore where my soul has longed to go,

I hear their gentle voices calling,

"Old Black Joe!"

~~~by buy maple story mesos