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It feels like the school holidays started yesterday and yet it is already too late to get the school uniform…
My son noticed the first back to school advert on the first day of the summer holidays. Uniforms were on sale, but after the last year, I felt they – and I – needed a break from thinking about school. Also, it seems like yesterday that school finished because school and home have become so blended over the last year. So we left it until after our week off last week to think about school uniforms. Mistake.
You can no longer just walk into a uniform shop. You have to book to go in or order online and there is a 20-day wait for the order to be delivered. The one uniform shop we used to go to is apparently not being used by the school any more and the nearest one that stocks the uniform is further away.
Normally, I would get most of the uniform on eBay or at Asda, but this year the school has decided to change the uniform slightly so no more v-neck blue jumper buyable in all good stores. Instead the jumper is blue, but with a gold lining ie forcing you to go to a specialist uniform shop and fork out more money. The tie has a crest. Ditto the blazer, although you can just buy the badge and iron it on a basic blue blazer.
Then there is the PE kit. It is stocked at a different shop somewhere in the Midlands which is impossible to access except online and you can’t get stuff second hand because the kit has changed from being red to being all blue. So, only son is going to start secondary school with no PE kit and having to take in a note to say his PE kit is on its way.
My partner, who is Spanish, simply cannot get his head around school uniform. They don’t do it in Spain and he thinks it is totally unnecessary and that the various changes and specialist shops required are all devised to get as much money out of parents as possible.
For me, it’s just one more thing to think about. Apparently, we should have ordered the uniform back in June when we were still stuck in the throws of Covid testing and reading multiple updates about whether proms and the like were on or off.
Instead there have been so many other things happening in the last few weeks that it is hard to keep up. Particularly when you often feel like you don’t want to get out of bed at all because grief hits you at different times and in different ways over months and years, even if you feel everyone around you is tired of hearing about it and thinks you should be over it. They probably don’t think that, of course, but unless they ask how it is going and really seem as if they want to hear the answer, how would you know?
Grief is a very lonely place, even with your family all around you. Everyone grieves in a different way. You have to go inside yourself and find a way forward. Focusing on the everyday stuff, like school uniforms, offers in fact some form of distraction. Since I have had children, my life has become an endless to-do list, but that to-do list is what keeps me going now. Ticking things off one by one provides an illusory sense of progress in a world which has become increasingly fragile and unreal.