Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Back to School - Before the End of Term!

Well, it's late, but it's still Wednesday, and I am in a grumpy mood, so here is a hastily scribbled Wednesday Whinge, which I will probably read and rewrite tomorrow! So here goes. I am fed-up with walking into shops displaying their 'Back to School' wares. Schools haven't even broken up yet, but for the past week at least stores have been showing signs such as this above racks and rails and shelves all crammed with every conceivable item a young person may want for the pursuance of their education: uniforms, PE kits, jackets, shoes, socks, bags, backpacks, flasks, lunchboxes, pens pencil cases, note books, diaries, dictionaries.... the list is endless.

Now I may be adopting an unecessarily pedantic attitude, but how can children go back to school if they are still at school and  haven't actually left for the summer? The end of the academic year may be imminent, but why urge parents to invest in clothing and equipment for the new term when school is definitely not out yet? And what kind of parent is so well organised that they are prepared to buy all this stuff now and store it away for six weeks or so?

Only once did I try to be efficient, and I bought schoolclothes in advance - only to to discover that come the start of term The Daughters, most inconsiderately, had grown so much over the holidays that nothing would fit, and I had to dash back to the shops on the last day of the holidays (minutes before closing time) to get everything changed. Buying bigger sizes, with what my mother calls 'room for growth', may have resolved the problem, but with my luck if I had tried that The Daughters wouldn't have grown at all, and would have been dwarfed by their new garments.

That was the same year I purchased a bargain batch of stationery, thinking it would be ideal for school - but it all got used up during the long sumer holiday. And the lurid pink lunchboxes and flasks, snapped up early because 'we might not see them again' never were seen again since I couldn't remember the location of the safe place where I hid them (so they wouldn't get lost...).  I dare say they are still lurking at the back of a cupboard somewhere in the house, and may yet turn up when we are desperately seeking some other misplaced possession.

Anyway, my efforts at being organised having proved such a miserable failure, I reverted to my usual last-minute method, which involved racing around the shops the day before the start of term stocking up on shirts, skirts, felt tips and other necessities.

Fortunately, The Daughters are quite grown up, so I don't have to worry about it - and perhaps that's why I find it so irritating to be accosted by these huge 'Back to School' displays in so many shops. Worst of all, it heralds the start of a 'shop early for...' season. Not only do we have to endure weeks of hard-sell techniques cashing in on the biggest day of the school calendar (the start of a new academic year) but there are all kinds of festivals and events in the months ahead, all subject to the same kind of treatment.

There's Hallowe'en, Bonfire Night and, of course, Christmas, the biggest consumer-fest of the lot. Sadly, the run-up to each seems to start earlier and earlier as the years go by, and there is so much hype surrounding the preceding period that the event itself is almost an anti-climax, with its true meaning lost in tacky commercialism and razzamatazz.

I simply cannot understand this obsession for having everything prepared so far in advance - unless it's all a cunning plan on the part of manufacturers and retailers, who know full well that shoppers will lose or use their purchases before the 'main event' and will have to rush out at the last minute to replenish their dwindling stocks.


  1. Well quite...

    I do know organised mums who buy everything in advance and their kids don't grow too much and they don't lose it...

    But I'm afraid we are always the last to buy stuff we need. (My son's first excuse for not having his reading books at school was 'Well, we are the forget family...' He had a point!

    Although I try to resist the urge to buy everything new in September anyway and instead spread it over the year...

  2. In Scotland school broke up beginging of the month - so they will be back soon.
    However I got really cross when our Garden Centre had 20% off everything and when I asked why as its only July - it was so they could clear the space for Christmas .......:(


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