Dear School, I hate you. Love, Me.

I’ve been full of good intentions this week.

After a month of borderline neglect of my child due to Big Work Stuff happening, I have dedicated myself to the art of of better parenting.

I’ve cooked dinner more often than I’ve ordered it in, and we’re making an extra effort on things like getting to the beach, going swimming and playing at home. I even remembered that Flea’s school had a Book Fair after school yesterday, and she needed to take in £3 today to pay for her book. See? That’s top parenting, right there.

But fundamentally, it seems, I’m doomed to a lifetime of passable parenting.

We were in the supermarket last night so I could buy sausages to cook dinner (excellent parenting) when Flea announced at the checkout, “It’s book day tomorrow, I need to go as a character from a book.” 

“First I’ve heard of it!” (bad parenting). 

“There was a note in my bag,” said Flea. 

“Why would I look in your bag?” (bad parenting) 

Luckily, Flea owns a gorgeous set of Harry Potter robes from our first visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, and a tie and broom from our second visit. So she was set.

Or so I thought until around 8am this morning when I opened my eyes to see a tearful Flea wearing an rather old and small Harry Potter costume that we picked up for a few quid when she was in pre-school. Her eyes had that I-am-totally-going-to-cry-in-five-seconds look.

“Where are your robes?” 

“I don’t kno0-o–o-o-o-o-ow…” she wailed.

“Okay, don’t panic. I’m getting up and we’ll find them together.” 

So I got out of bed (excellent parenting) and together with Flea, scoured the whole house for the missing robes. They were nowhere to be found (bad parenting).

I tried to use this as a teachable moment about putting things back where they come from, so you can find them later but then Flea fell over and she couldn’t really hear my parental wisdom over her wails of, “My knee REALLY hurts!” 

Luckily the dressing up box did turn up a stripy Harry Potter t-shirt we’d bought in Florida, together with a Gryffindor scarf, and a broomstick. It was a close call, we almost had to go with the age 4-5 Buzz Lightyear costume.

Job done.

“There’s an author visit, too!” said Flea, happily, injured knee forgotten.

Flea’s school regularly invites authors in to talk to the kids, which is fab – but it’s a meaner parent than me who has the heart to say no, Flea can’t buy a signed book from the author. So Flea needed another £9 to pay for the book. So I started rifling through drawers again, trying to find £9 in loose change. Seriously, £9?? “They couldn’t invite a cheaper book author?” I grumbled.

Anyway, finding nine quid takes a lot longer than you might think. And then it turned out I wasn’t done, because every child has to pay £1 to school for the privilege of going to school in costume. By this point, Flea was so weighed down with 20p coins, I had to find a Ziploc bag to put all the loose change so Flea wouldn’t lose it.

Seriously, when did Book Day get so expensive? There’s only so much change I can find down the back of the sofa with zero notice.

I hustled Flea into the car and we got to school only a few minutes late. Flea went in quite happily and I drove home, and sat down, congratulating myself on another day of passable parenting.

Then I saw this Tweet.

Bloody brilliant.

Not only is it book day it’s Harvest Festival. And my child will doubtless be the only one without ANYTHING to donate.

I’ve decided it’s a conspiracy. Even when you think you’ve got it all covered, schools conspire to ensure there’s always something to be forgotten. I’m blaming all my bad parenting on them. Who’s with me?



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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  1. 4th October 2013 / 8:40 am

    oh god, we’re getting all this for the first time. Does it keep going like this ALL year?

    I think – I hope – our book day is next week. Otherwise I’ve failed BIG time!
    jo recently posted..Won’t Someone Think Of The Parents?My Profile

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 1:26 pm

      haha! Good luck 🙂

  2. Purplemum
    4th October 2013 / 10:23 am

    Absolutely agree, between dressing up days, school trips, bake sales, harvest festivals et all it’s non stop. I feel like my brain is made of edam and these commitments all fall through the holes. This year I’ve two children in school, God knows how I’ll cope once all three attend.

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 1:25 pm

      TOO MUCH STUFF!!! Argh.

  3. 4th October 2013 / 9:45 am

    I could have written this myself a few years back. So glad I’m out of that school stuff!

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 1:26 pm

      Lucky you!

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 1:25 pm

      Sadly, ours was definitely today 🙁

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 8:21 pm


  4. 4th October 2013 / 6:35 pm

    We are truely twins I blame Gemma for everything! Plus I lasso forgot harvest for all my kids. And school dinners and insulin today. Beat that x
    jane recently posted..Dancing to death..My Profile

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 8:21 pm

      You lasso your kids? Is there not a law against that?

  5. 4th October 2013 / 6:39 pm

    And I thought it was only me hating school for doing all the extra stuff ……. I always forget to bring change when it’s a non-uniform day… and the looks the teacher gives me would kill! Last time I literally ran back to the car while carrying Olivia and collected all 10p and 20p, and then ran back to the classroom. Would you believe the teacher wasn’t still happy?
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    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 8:21 pm

      I pay for a lot of school activities in 20p coins.

  6. 4th October 2013 / 6:59 pm

    Book Day? You are lucky, we have a whole week of it…something to take in every day! Heaven help me…
    Emma @emvanstone recently posted..Early morning soundsMy Profile

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 8:22 pm

      My deepest sympathies.

  7. 4th October 2013 / 7:00 pm

    I’m with you on that!

    Bunny has been back at school for 5 weeks and not only have I not sent her in a PE Kit yet… I haven’t bought her any PE Kit yet!

    She lost her lunchbox on the first week back, so she now gets her lunch in a delightfully trendy carrier bag!

    I also have found that when I’m late, I no longer have to be patronised by the school receptionist – I can just lift my daughter over the fence, when nobody is looking!

    I have a friendly that is equally as forgetful as me – we remind each other of non uniform days etc – assuming one of us has read the endless school newsletter, which is mostly full of year 6 sport (my child is year 2).

    We aren’t bad parents – schools are just particularly demanding!
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    • 4th October 2013 / 9:22 pm

      Yeah… I keep getting asked in Max’s daily diary for shorts for gym day. Haven’t bought them and we’re 2 months in now here. >_<
      Can't stand all the dress up things! Honestly, Zack's never done the dress-up for book day. There are loads of other kids who don't bother, and now he's too cool to want to do that, apparently. He's 8 and too cool. Suits me fine!
      (also? SO looking forward to my lie in tomorrow. Boys go down to the living room and game their lil hearts out all morning. I'm totally an awesome parent for that apparently. 😉 )
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  8. 4th October 2013 / 7:03 pm

    …. oh and I get CONSTANT text messages from the school – reminding me that her dinner money account is overdrawn (from the days when I can’t be bothered to make packed lunch)!

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 8:22 pm

      Ha! You sound almost as impressive as me 🙂

  9. helloitsgemma
    4th October 2013 / 7:08 pm

    Why do schools do this to parents. Is it test? A stats for parents?
    A note in the bag at the beginning of term (a lifetime ago) says “Harvest Festival 4th Oct”. This is updated in last Friday’s newsletter: “Harvest Festival 9 am”. That’s it. I ask the class teacher for further details. She is unclear. I check with other parents, no one is sure. Because the Head Teacher has nothing better to do than answer another email from me. I go to the top. “Are parents welcome? Should children bring a donation?” This is my son’s first Harvest Festival, my last one was over 30 years ago and involved tinned fruit, not parents. The response: “of course parents are welcome, that’s why it’s at 9 am” Well, face palm me! And yes to donations. Finally, all this is confirmed in a text on Wednesday evening (which is all the notice you need if you have a job!!). Thank the Lord for tins at the back of the cupboard. Would you like me to tweet about school events the evening before in future?

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 8:23 pm

      I think it’s a punishment for former sins. It’s the only reasonable explanation.

  10. 4th October 2013 / 7:22 pm

    I hate that our school gives us usually less than a weeks notice of theses happenings and wants costumes, money, cakes, clothes or other stuff, or for parents to attend things. Last term I got really stroppy at being told two days before that the kids had to come in dressed in colours or costumes of certain countries (football/rugby tops were not allowed) and sent a snotty mail to the head about it. I also hate the way they organise things and then expect working parents to be able to re arrange stuff at a moments notice.
    I sound bitter, I’d best go have a glass of wine….

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 8:23 pm

      Yes! Although to be fair, if I looked in Flea’s bag more often (for example, if we did homework regularly) I might notice 😉

    • Sally
      4th October 2013 / 8:23 pm

      It’s how everyone does it, who actually has a life. Who carries actual cash these days? Pfft.

  11. 4th October 2013 / 8:25 pm

    I don’t feel half as bad knowing there are other parents like me! Very funny.

  12. 4th October 2013 / 8:26 pm

    Yep, I just thank the stars that I remembered the maths workshop this week. I did forget the Harvest Festival however, oh and it was the Macmillan Coffee morning too-fab. We get one letter at the start of term with a list of dates-that’s it. How on earth are you meant to remember all of that?!

  13. 4th October 2013 / 9:32 pm

    This is me! Best is when the husband , who is assistant head, also throws in his hat – can you make me a paper mache Wimpy head??? Seriously he gave me a days notice!
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  14. 4th October 2013 / 10:01 pm

    We are lucky no harvest festival but have spent a week arguing with an 8 yr old about the difference between comic character and book character only for him to be poorly and not go to school.
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  15. 5th October 2013 / 7:18 am

    Oh man, I completely relate. Sausage’s school has this stupid system of selling little paper tickets for school dinners and the amount of times she’s come home and said “Mum, you forget to buy me more dinner tickets’ is frankly embarrassing. Also, World Book Day? Last year, I bought her a beautiful Cleopatra outfit, complete with white velvet dress with train…only for it to be piddling down all day, and completely not the weather to be dragging white fabric through puddles. She ended up goimg I’m her Merida dress, with strict instructions to tell everyone she was Maid Marion!
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  16. 5th October 2013 / 8:53 am

    Pretty much snap.
    Managed to cobble together costumes for both boys (which gets pretty tricky when you have a very tall and ever growing 9 year old) and despite extensive conversations over breakfast, it wasn’t until we were just getting out of the car that both boys thought to mention that they were meant to take in a food donation for the elderly. It doesn’t help that when I double checked on my computer harvest festival was clearly stated as being on a future date – but apparently the infants and juniors celebrate the same festival 2 weeks apart!
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  17. 5th October 2013 / 8:55 am

    My daughter is going to the Galleries of justice in Nottingham next Thursday, cool I thought, lovely idea. Just been told she needs a costume for that, right down to mop cap. Seriously why would I have a mop cap just hanging around?! Thank god for eBay!
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  18. Johanna Lawler
    25th October 2013 / 11:29 am

    I think they’re on a mission to prove we can not do it all !!