back to school – the good, the early and the need for a bottomless bank account

So, six weeks of summer school holidays are drawing to a close. Six weeks. Two thirds of a school term. Four boys. Christmas. Humidity. Heat.

Yes, that is a recipe for me to up my meds but this year, I don’t know, I’m full of anticipation, excitement and well, enthusiasm for the year ahead. I can not recall EVER feeling that way about a year ahead. No really. Normally it’s resignation, foreboding and grim determination. I am making sure I really enjoy this feeling, relishing it even for I know how quickly it can all go south.

And yes, last summer holidays were spent with me yelling at the children and the children being generally vile. These holidays had us tripping off to the beach at a moment’s notice, trips to the movies, spontaneous holidays at my Dad’s place, various catch-ups with friends and while there was quite the hiccup over Christmas and days when the children have done my head in and moments when I have desperately needed time out, I can confidently say these holidays have flown.

And so here we are.

Felix is back at school on Monday.

Oscar goes Tuesday, more on that in a moment.

Jasper goes up to school on Monday morning for his kindergarten assessment and then starts at 10am on Thursday.

Grover starts pre-school on Thursday (he’ll go two days a week Thurs-Fri this year, three days next year and then school in 2013).

I just had a phone call from one Mrs J – Oscar’s bus driver. He will be picked up and dropped off every day from school by Mrs J who tells me she’s been doing this for 21 years. About the best way to sum of Mrs J is to think of Patty or Selma, throw in the phrase she used: a short pencil is better than a long memory and there you have it. I imagine Mrs J has quite the fag habit from dealing with these kids for more than 20 years and is probably fairly partial to a stiff scotch at the end of each day.  Bless her.

But there is, of course, a catch when sponging off the tax payers for a government bus service. Oscar will get picked up each morning at … 6:50am. We’ve no idea when he’ll get dropped home as he is the first pick up in the morning and the last drop-off in the afternoon so I’m guessing he may be home before nightfall. Just.

Now this may have some parents moaning and groaning about how long a day that is for poor little Johnny/Clarabel but not us! A) Oscar is STOKED it’s a bus (14 seater apparently), B) Finally Oscar’s penchant for getting up at 5am will pay handsome dividends and C) it makes my mornings and indeed afternoons a HELL of a lot easier. Point C) is bad isn’t it. That I’m happy to have my kid out of the house so I can deal with the other three. But folks. You’ve gotta cut me some slack. Getting Oscar ready is a nightmare at the best of times. Having to have him ready super early – basically before everyone else is even awake – is ideal. No distractions, no hyper-stimulation, just get ready, have breaky, go and wait out the front. Awesome.

Of course, back to school also means highway robbery a trip to the shoe shop. Last year Felix wore through four yes FOUR pairs of cheap sneakers (aka joggers, trainers, runners) and Oscar went through two pairs. I decided this year to fork out the expense for the, well, more expensive ones in the vein hope they will withstand the daily assault my children seem to inflict on them.

Jasper got proper school shoes (as opposed to reinforced fuck-off stitched black sneakers to look like school shoes for Felix) and Oscar. Well. Oscar has two options:

1. To wear his AFOs (plastic leg splints which cover 2/3 of his lower legs and feet, aka superlegs) with cheap black sneakers from target and swelter all day (when his body does not process or withstand over-heating) or

2. To wear outrageously expensive highly supportive black Brooks sneakers.

For the last four years – ever since he’s had his superlegs – I have gone with option 1. So this year I went bugger it and went with option 2. Post surgery was the main reason – but also that he’s now in highschool and I want him to feel good about himself, not hot and about to pass out.

There are a few minor issues here – Oscar is now a men’s size 8 1/2 and Felix, at age 10? Felix is a men’s 9 1/2. You know what that means? You know, adult shoe size = adult shoe prices.

I’ll be raiding the kids’ money boxes for milk and bread money scrounging down the back of the lounge for loose change in the corner weeping.