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August is an expensive month. Suddenly all those sunny afternoons of eating ice-cream and playing on the beach seem a million miles away. You're 
afraid to open your bank statement. August is to summer what January is to Christmas. The fun is over and now it's time to get serious.

August is an expensive month. Suddenly all those sunny afternoons of eating ice-cream and playing on the beach seem a million miles away. You're 
afraid to open your bank statement. August is to summer what January is to Christmas. The fun is over and now it's time to get serious.

Going back to school evokes many emotions in parents. Some of us are hit with the reality that our babies are growing up.

It seems like yesterday that they were in your arms and now they're wearing ties! You worry that they'll be able to fend for themselves now that they're out of your clutches. Will they be shy? Will they make friends quickly? Will there be tears at the school gate when you wave good-bye for the first time?

Emotional

In my personal experience there were no tears or tantrums. My son Gary was quite happy to see me off quickly on his first day of school. I'm not sure if this was a good or a bad thing. Other parents had warned me of highly emotional scenes. But he just said good-bye casually as though I was someone he'd just met and I went off to Dundrum to do 
a bit of shopping, glad of a few peaceful hours 
to myself.

But now it's back to school time again and I'm panicking, There's so much to be bought - new shoes, new wardrobe, new haircut - and that's just for me! Yes, I have to look presentable at the school gate. I mean, I'm not talking about a full-on fashion show every morning but you do have to look like you've made some effort.

Tracksuits are not acceptable unless you intend to go to the gym immediately afterwards. Otherwise they are a no-go in my opinion.

Recently on the TV we have been bombarded with ads of yummy mummies all dressed in a nice bright colours with shiny hair, painted smiles and spanking new wardrobes, holding their kids' trendy new backpacks. Talk about peer pressure!

I suppose I'm lucky that Gary has a school 
uniform that doesn't cost too much, but I do have to buy new shoes. I wouldn't mind but we bought new shoes in May after trying on 17 pairs.

It was a totally exasperating experience but 
finally we found suitable ones. He wore them three times and lost them.

I don't know how or why but one day they just vanished, never to be seen again, and new leather shoes do not come cheap.

Themed

He's not getting a new school bag because he already has five themed ones. I'm not getting one either as I have 15 (non-themed). We could almost open a bag shop between us!

Then there's the fussing about lunch boxes. Gary is encouraged by the school to eat a healthy lunch only.

No sweets, biscuits or fizzy drinks are allowed. And rightly so. In a way, it makes me feel like I should go back to school myself.

Think of all the weight would lose! So I have to buy in the fruit and the healthy brown bread and cheeses. I need to be organised and on top of my game. Alas, the summer of 2014 with our colas and 99s feels like a very long time ago.

> marisa mackle


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