Back to school time. Hooray for parents and kids too, if they are happy at school that is.
I am a fan of the school uniform. Kids are bullied enough at school as it is without introducing the prospect of which kid has the coolest clothes- or the wealthiest and/or most stupid parents.
September is the key month in any academic year. It might even be the start of a brand new school or at the very least is always the start of a new academic year. So, September is always a new leaf to be turned over, if only briefly.
And now is a good time to be a children’s shoe retailer. After a quiet June and dead July and August, September is suddenly their harvest festival.
In our house, we have just spent the morning inspecting the various shoes and their worthiness for the forthcoming term. Standards are always higher for the September term. They’ll do might be okay for May but not for September. Not for a new year. Inspecting shoes is never easy. Like weapons inspectors, first of all, the shoes need to be physically located.
Well, where did you leave them?
Size is the most crucial consideration and whether or not they still fit? As a small man I hope that my kids will be taller than me – until that is, I squeeze the end of their shoe, in the hope of feeling space and not a big toe.
Then there is general appearance of the shoe to consider. What strikes me is how similar children’s shoes eventually appear. When the shoes are purchased, there are always a few styles to choose between but it seems than within a few weeks, all children’s shoes look exactly the same. At least boy’s shoes anyway. Beaten, scraped and smashed in to a generic Cornish pasty shape.
And because shoes give up all shape and style almost immediately, they offer little prospect of being passed down to younger brothers in the way that clothes can be. Or used to be since blazers nowadays are so cheap, they equally become ill-fitting and start to fall apart almost immediately. Not dissimilar to the plastic bags for life that supermarkets peddle us in a forlorn hope that we’re saving earth. A bag for a month or so is much more accurate.
This morning, of our four sons, we only needed to inspect three pairs of shoes because my eldest no longer needs ‘school’ shoes. And the outcome? Two new pairs required.
And so my wife is currently fighting the crowds in a shoe shop that is probably packed and definitely chaotic. Buggies with screaming babies. Shoes strewn everywhere. Kids lost, hiding or tantrumming.
My wife drew the short straw then? To go along with the ticket she is now clutching as she waits for her number to be called.
But her sacrifice has an upside as well. Because tonight is the premier of RUSH, the new movie by Ron Howard. Our eldest son, Tom, has been invited. Tom plus one for this glamorous black tie affair with an array of famous people and a red carpet, no doubt.
And as much as I would enjoy this evening also, it could never be as much fun as avoiding the moment that every parent dreads – when the sales assistant returns with the news – we don’t have these in that sizeâ€¦