My boys are attending different schools this academic year (long story), so this week, whilst prodding them with an iron poker to prevent them napping in the car, I’ve been running from pillar to post, spending a small fortune on two sets of (different) uniforms, shoes, lunch boxes and water cups.
I’ve tried really hard to get it right, to make sure each boy is kitted out properly, with well-fitting shorts and shirts, that are labelled, and with hats that I know will get lost (due to the sun, there’s a no-hat/no-play policy).
You think you’ll just get it done on time, then you bump into her: Organised Mum. Yummy mummy-of-three-hen-pecked-children extraordinaire.
You meet her at the uniform shop – except she’s not there to buy uniforms. She bought those in June, long before the store ran out of book bags and PE shirts. She’s there to buy a new wall planner, because last year’s didn’t have enough space for all their extra curricula activities.
“Are you ready for school?” she trills, with the smug air of someone who could quite easily spend this week by the pool. “Olivia can’t wait for school to start, can you darling?”
You see, Organised Mum has every reason to gloat, because she spent her entire summer planning for this moment. The Organised family went to the Rockies to climb mountains in July, with two weeks in St Tropez on the way back. But she never took her eye off the start of the new term.
Her children were measured and fitted for shoes on a stop-over in London; haircuts were done at Vidal Sassoon in Mayfair; her maid sewed satin labels on while they were away; and she restocked their stationery supplies with some stylish new lines sold exclusively at a French boutique.
Organised Mum has all the time in the world this week, and it’s beyond her that other mothers might still be buying last-minute uniforms. She finds a wall planner she likes and asks at the till if she can pre-order a diary for 2013. As she discusses typefaces, the working mothers in the line behind her, with approximately 10 minutes to get all their back-to-school supplies and get back to their desks, start silently cursing.
She leaves her details and the queue exhales a sigh of relief as she moves aside, but she’s not finished yet. With Mr Organised, a big cheese in oil pipelines, away in Saudi, she fancies a little more adult interaction and asks what activities we’re signing up for this term.
“We’re doing some extra French tuition,” she says. “The girls practised so hard on holiday. Go on, Trixabelle, say something in French. She sounds so clever when she speaks French.
“And we’ll be at the swimming trials, of course. Harry was very inspired by the Olympics … You never know!” she tinkles proudly.
“Maybe see you at the pool later,” she calls, as she breezes out the door into the sunshine.
Maybe not, Organised Mum. Some of us still have shopping to do.