Despite the fact that two of Toni's kids still aren't back at school, we're discussing it anyway:
Unlike many parents, I half dread back to school time. Well, not the getting-rid-of-the-kids part, but the school supply list. I'm not sure whether it's just our school but I have to supply everything—pens, pencils, lined paper, glue sticks, binders. I really don't remember having to obtain all this when I was at little school. What is the world coming to?
Being foreign, the school supply list poses quite a few problems for me. I remember some years back when "Trapper-keeper" appeared on the Queenager's list.
"Is that for your science lessons?" I asked, imagining something to, well, trap things in. Unfortunately she didn't know, so I had to resort to Plan B: go and stand in Office Depot (that's Deepo, BTW) and look for a big sign saying "Trapper Keepers This Way". And then Plan C: listen for other people saying "Where are the Trapper Keepers?" and fall in line behind them. Lady Luck wasn't smiling on me that day, so I put on my very best English accent and asked the assistant, who kindly led me to an aisle full of…binders, basically.
And the next item? "College ruled" note paper. Oh for Pete's sake, what's that when it's at home? I need a translator.
It’s always interesting when back to school time rolls around here, as I get to see what British parents have to do to prepare their offspring for the new semester.
The biggest rituals, as far as I can see, is the buying of the school uniforms followed closely by the trek to Clark’s for inexpensive, sensible shoes. Buying a school uniform is the ritual, of course, most foreign to me. Uniforms were unheard of in my world, unless you went to The Christian Brother’s Academy. Here, most children wear them, as because the blazers are expensive, they are generally bought with a “they will grow into them” thought in mind, leading to children starting their first year of school with their blazer sleeves hanging down to past their knees.
When we walk by the Clark’s shoe store this time of year, the scrum inside is reminiscent of the Next sales, only with mothers and young children instead of trendy women. They also institute a deli-style “pick a number and wait your turn” type of shopping in a valiant, though vain, attempt to maintain order.
One of the most interesting things I heard about British schools, came from my barber. He daughter is starting school this year, and is going to something called a Cashless School. She has an account to log into, top up with electronic cash as she sees fit, and her daughter can buy what she needs at the school lunch room. To pay, the young girl (she’s five years old) presses her thumb on a scanner. This means there is no lost lunch money, no extortion by older kids, no hold-up of the lunch queue while the dinner-ladies make change, etc.
It would have been nice to have had something like this when I went to school. Imagine being able to go through the lunch line, selecting what I wanted and then, when I reached the end of the line, being grabbed by the big kid in front of me and having my hand slammed down on the scanner so his lunch would be charged to my account.
Technology can only carry us so far.
22 hours ago