It’s that time of year again when I brave the shops to replenish pencil cases with new stationery and purchase new workbooks for the year.

To me the kid’s pencil cases from last year seem to be bulging with pens, textas, pencils and an assortment of stationery paraphernalia, whilst my kids assure me that they are simply a barren graveyard of used and broken items with no possible further use. 

So with four kids, I have to take a trolley and try to maneuver down isles where chicanes of overflowing boxes have been placed to make the path as difficult as possible to pass. With precision the trolley (with the one wheel that refuses to synchronise with its mates), is pushed through the obstacle course with children wildly throwing items in with gay abandon. ‘I definitely need an erasable pen,’ and ’24 colours are not enough when it comes to colouring in’ are mumbled as they frantically try to find all the ‘essential’ items required to ensure they have a successful year ahead at school.

I finally put my foot down when one child tries to persuade me that twelve multi-coloured animal erasers are far more suitable than the two white rectangular models that are listed for purchase. ‘You see,’ she reasons, ‘they can then have matching paperclips, pencils, sharpeners, rulers and…’ I return the animals to their cage and insist on the plain white erasers before this gets even further out of hand.

As I coax the trolley up to the checkout, the bored assistant looks annoyed that she needs to scan through a bulging trolley load of stationery. I mirror that annoyance, but it is more at having to pay for the stationery and then knowing that I will have to sit down and individually label each pen, pencil and eraser with the appropriate child’s name.

I take a deep breath and realise that this is one necessary step to get the kids ready to return to school – a time when once again my days will be my own. Only nineteen days to go (not that I’m counting!!!)




(Picture courtesy of adamr,


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