Back to school 2021 is different again, and that’s when even 2020 wasn’t quite the same as 2019 was. It’s been sort of normal, at least it’s only been 5 weeks away from their friends compared to the 20 or so last year.
Here’s how we prepared for R-day, returning to school.
R minus 6 weeks
In some ridiculous fit of preparedness, while shopping for my birthday in Chester we pop into the dreaded Smiggle and come out with a sale bargain new backpack for large boy. His current one has lasted at least 2 years but the mesh side pocket now randomly releases his water bottle and the zips are unreliable. He cons me into his initial on a key chain too.
R minus 3 weeks
While at my parents on summer break, I book into our local John Lewis for a school shoe fitting the Friday before schools start back. I have a rule that I leave it as late as possible to avoid possible growth spurts before the shoes are needed, but always book to avoid the long waits.
R minus 12 days
I get the boys to try on all the clothes and figure out what I need to buy. I write a list, add some rugby bits and decide that large boy must learn to wear a proper tie as the elasticated one is starting to look comically short on him.
Through some miracle no usual uniform is required. I order a couple of pairs of trousers and a pack of shirts from Sainsbury’s online Tu clothing whatsit for large boy – just in case. They haven’t got any jumpers but it’s not as though they’ll need them in September initially.
R minus 7 days
I remember we were supposed to be working on Cubs badges over the holiday, then promptly forget again.
R minus 6 days
The annual massive school kit shop. I start with our uniform shop, quickly discovering that without an appointment things are tricky. They’re really good though and squeeze us in. I’m in the midst of discussing hoodie sizes when large boy interrupts to ask what we’re doing on Monday (he has amazingly bad timing). Then while I’m explaining the initials for their PE kit, small boy decides now is the moment for some interpretive dance. It is going to be a stressful day.
A quick stop at our local Sainsbury’s to pick up the pre-order of trousers and shirts for large boy – why I didn’t get them delivered to the store next door to our next stop at John Lewis i don’t know. Extra miles and extra rushing.
Next, I spend three million pounds on two pairs of black shoes. There’s a mere 2 pairs to choose from in small boy’s size and for large boy only one pair he’ll even try on. Then Sainsbury’s where I grab the last navy blue sweater in large boy’s size.
We enjoy our annual treat lunch at TGI Fridays, where large boy polishes off all the chicken he can lay his hands on and an adult pudding. This is why I leave shopping until now, if he’s growing I’d rather get uniform during the growth spurt than before it.
Next up is Decathlon for trainers and a good mooch around the running kit. We spot a large quantity of bikes to tell himself about. I get a new small back pack, a bike bottle holder, a tee shirt for large boy and remove myself before I spend any more.
To round out the day of purchases, we go to Costco to stock up on some bits and bobs, including a ridiculous quantity of loo roll, chocolate pancakes and a block of cheese the size of small boy’s head.
R minus 2 days
Ah the ironing and the labeling. Who doesn’t love all that stuff?! Me! Eugh, all the shorts and trousers are ironed. I leave large boy’s name tags in small boy’s clothes cos it’s close enough. Large boy’s new clothes I just write our surname in for future re-use.
R minus 1 day
We finally get a back to school letter from school, it’s dated the end of July but no one I know had had physical copy. Strange. By evening bags are packed, himself makes lunches, I polish shoes in between rugby training and an evening meeting. Large boy gets a lesson in tying a proper tie, and how to take it off without undoing it.
The alarm goes off and himself goes to rouse the kids. Small boy is fast asleep and doesn’t want to move. Large boy has already been awake for half an hour and he’s bouncing off the ceiling.
My lovely manager is happy for me to start work a bit later so I can drop the boys off at the start of the school day, instead of sending them to breakfast club on the first day. We have a nice breakfast and take some half decent photos for once. I check my work emails and deal with the urgent ones, then it’s off.
As we wall from the car to school, one of large boy’s classmates is there so we drop him at his classroom first. I let his teacher know that he has a cough but we’ve done a lateral flow test and it’s just a cold. As we say goodbye, small boy spots some of his friend and waves manically at him. When we get to his classroom door, there’s a queue so we get time time a tight squeezing hug.
At the end of the day, I pick the boys of from after school club. Small boy spends 10 minutes looking for his jumper, he cannot lose it on day one! At last, it’s found on a bench outside the boy’s toilets. Large boy is hoarse from his cough and all the chattering but that doesn’t prevent him from talking non-stop about his day. Small boy is more reticent as usual, it wasn’t a bad day he says but he doesn’t have a favourite bit to tell me about.
Definitely back to business as usual.
How was yours?