BACK TO SCHOOL VS FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL

So, the beginning of September is upon us, and the gleeful whoops of children bouncing on trampolines in back gardens the length and breadth of Britain every hour of the day will soon be a distant memory.

But wait, there is another sound which fills the air. Well, two different sounds actually; one sounds a bit like hysterical laughter and the other is the sound of mums sniffling into hankies while simultaneously taking photos of their children at the front door wearing school uniforms.

Yes, schools are once again open for business and thank the good Lord for that.

Am I being too cynical? Well, I am a battle hardened Back to School Mum, one of the near-hysterical laughter brigade, so I can't apologise for feeling something approaching delight when the bell rings for the first day back. In fact, to prove my point that the holidays are well and truly OV-AH, this very morning, my youngest smacked my eldest in the eye with a tennis ball in an unprovoked attack. Yesterday my eldest tried to squish my youngest under a pile of cushions. The space hopper in the garden is now a near lethal weapon known as "Mr Slappy" and whichever child gets it first can be relied upon to whack the other around the head with it.  It's not a lack of discipline in the home, it's just a result of them being here too flaming long.

And it is not as if I haven't taken them out and done stuff over the hols, if you please. I actually learned to play basketball this summer.

Basketball. So don't tell me they haven't had a fantastic summer because they have. Anyway, all this brings me on to the chasm between Back To School Mum and First Day of School Mum, with a large pinch of salt.

 

1. The school uniform:

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL has been planning the uniform for months, possibly since last Christmas. Everything has been pre-ordered, washed, lovingly ironed, tried on, hung in the wardrobe, taken out and tried on again in front of the grandparents. The shoes were a difficult choice, as they are to take the little one into the classroom for the very first time, but after tours of every shoe shop in town, plus a trip to a major shopping centre, a selection was made, but only after full discussion with other mums,  online and in real life.

BACK TO SCHOOL Uniform. Christ! Where is it? Probably at the bottom of a laundry basket or under a bed somewhere, in fact, wherever it was chucked back in July. OK, so, there are a few stains but there's no time to wash it now. Just a quick iron, no-one will notice. Yes, the trousers are a bit small but I will order some online and they will be here by the end of the week. Shoes- half a size too small, ditto. Sports kit... are you actually doing any sport this week? And so on...

 

2. Photographic opportunities and social media coverage

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL stages the photo of little one smiling at the front door, bag over shoulder, the day before just to get the right shot, best lighting angle etc. This gives time for the correct filters to be sorted. The school gates are full to brimming with mums capturing the big moment on their iPhones so people keep bumping in to each other.

BACK TO SCHOOL takes a picture of the bottle of gin she will consume in celebration at getting the kids off her hands at last. Yogamums and Pilates lovers will of course instagram themselves in a variety of bendy poses, apologising to their followers for the six weeks' absence and which they have filled with a few shots of sunsets at Ibiza or Cornwall, when the kids didn't get in the way of course.

 

3. School dinners

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL has prepared an organic packed lunch which would make Gwyneth Paltrow proud but by 11am is rather anxious about whether her little one will actually eat any of it so will fight the urge to casually stroll past the school gates to check if their child is looking hungry. If the meals are provided by the school, she will have vetted that menu and satisfied herself that there is something her child will find acceptable.

BACK TO SCHOOL If only the headmistress wouldn't make such a fuss, honestly. It's like having Jamie Oliver in charge. What is wrong with a bag of crisps and a chocolate bar? She will chuck in an apple if there is one loitering in the fruit bowl. In any case, it's not oven chips on the menu again at home. Yippee!

 

4. Home time

FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL will nervously chat to some of the other new mums at the school gates, as hierarchies are established and coffee mornings organised. All the chatter will stop as the little ones spill out into the playground for pick up, clutching a drawing and wearing a badge to show they have had a great day. The little one's creation will be treated with great reverence, like the discovery of a hitherto unseen Van Gogh, and proudly displayed on the kitchen wall, photographed, instagrammed, Facebooked etc.

BACK TO SCHOOL will dash into the playground ten minutes late, slurping the last of her complimentary latte, and praying that her nails won't smudge. It was just such bliss to have time for a mani/pedi. She will already have caught up with her real friends but will air kiss a few other school gate mavens and give others a wide berth as she pats her offspring on the head and scrumples his arty offering into her handbag.

She will traipse off to the park with a few mums, keen to snatch a few last rays of late afternoon sun and hear all the gossip, in the hope that her kids will have worn themselves out before tea and it won't be blue murder at bed time.

 

And repeat to fade until the Christmas holidays...