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!