It's a nasty, rainy morning in the Midlands. Standing in the rain, huddled together with matching book bags and water bottles are three parents. Waiting for the bell to ring, they are trying to keep dry, catch up with friends, keep an eye on their children, and stop the bottom of their trousers soaking up any more water but subtlety hitching them up to Simon Cowell heights every 3 minutes. They are carrying all the school paraphernalia required. Their children, 4 years old, are too busy running amok to hold said paraphernalia, and will, if unprompted, probably run into school without required book bag, water bottle, a photograph of themselves as babies (this week's homework for the parents), and a signed letter saying that, yes, they are allowed to have their eyes tested by the school nurse.
The mums all have the look of a frightened rabbit about them. It's only week two. They thought school would mean; drop off at 9am, pick up at 3.30pm. But no. Their children are all 'Rising Fives', which essentially means that they are not five at all, in fact they are nowhere near five, having only turned four a few measly weeks ago, and are so young that the smallest size of school uniform looks massive on them. They are, as a result, starting school in September for 'mornings only'. Which means, by the time you've dropped them off at 8.55am, and returned to pick them up at 11.55, you've barely had time to boil the kettle. They have spent the first two weeks of school coming home with letters to their 'frightened rabbit looking mums' almost daily, inviting said parents to sign various forms, attend a school meeting (week one), attend a PTA meeting (week 2), become a school governor (week 2), obtain a minimum of £25 sponsorship for an event all children are participating in in week 4, sign their children up for football classes, dance classes, and remember to take in a copy of their child's birth certificate so that their identity can be confirmed.
On top of this they are required to remember to send their children with a clear (not coloured) bottle of water at the beginning of each week (presumably schools don't use their own cups for drinks anymore?), ensure name labels are in every item of clothing and dress them in 'easy' clothes on PE days (as the teachers presumably don't have the time to help them get dressed or undressed, regardless of their young age). I can imagine a bunch of school children running around a school hall half-dressed. A young boy still in his school shirt because he can't quite do the buttons yet. A young girl still in her coat for the same reason. Shorts on back to front. Plimsolls on the wrong feet. Oh dear.
And all of this on top of the added strain of having to get the child to school on time. Not just to a relaxing play group once a week. But to school. Everyday. Where I'm sure they do detention for parents that are stupid enough to be late.
It turns out that school now runs our lives. We can't go on holiday anymore without consulting the school timetable. Though looking at the prices is an easy way of spotting when the holidays are. When the prices hike.
Am I stressed? Ever so slightly.
Can I still be yummy doing all this? Goodness knows. I will try my best.