Back to school daydreams

Back-to-school time is usually a little bit frenzied, but for our family, this year is proving to be even crazier than usual. We have two children starting at two different schools: Master Five is going to primary school for the first time, and Miss 10 is starting at secondary school. This has meant two different sets of uniforms, stationery, shoes… And we’ve had to shop at eight different places to get everything!

I wish someone would open a back-to-school warehouse where you can just get all of the bits and pieces in one go. It would have huge trolleys, a supervised play area where you could leave whingey kids while shopping, and a café which serves healthy yet tasty snacks and gourmet tea.

They would always have all of the pieces of each uniform in stock – no more stressing over finding those elusive bottle-green tights that are compulsory but not available anywhere. And the parking would be easy, free, and plentiful, unlike that one uniform shop smack in the centre of town where we had to circle the block six times before finding a 30-minute parking spot costing $6.

The uniform sizing would be standard and not those weird European sizes which require you to know your child’s height. And if they needed any adjustments, there would be an on-site tailoring service where you could get things hemmed or taken in while you have a complimentary coffee at the abovementioned café.

There would also be a clothing-labelling service available for a nominal fee, and a book-covering service so there’s no wrestling with sticky plastic book covers, trying to get them smooth and wrinkle-free. (Seriously, if you can get school books covered without wrinkles, please tell me your secret, because this is not a skill I possess.)

And just to round things off, the dental clinic and a GP would also be available for tooth cleaning and well-child checks. And probably there would be a delousing service just in case your kids have nits, which seem to occur at any old time of the year. But you could pay someone else to deal with that.

Oh, and let’s add in a seminar classroom where child-friendly nutritionists could convince your kids that packing their lunchboxes full of fruits and vegetables rather than chippies, chippies, and more chippies, with a side of cookies, is a good idea. I’m also not opposed to hypnotism if that would work on the really tough, chip-addicted cases.

If someone out there wants to steal my idea and make it happen, please go for it. Just remember to invite me to your grand opening celebration.

What I’m reading this week… 


Italy, 1945: Among the ruins of the bombed Naples streets, Caterina Lombardi is struggling to put food on her family’s table. Her father is dead, her mother has long ago abandoned the family, and she is the sole provider for her younger brother and her blind grandfather. Her trade is in delicate and elaborate wood inlay work, taught to her by her master craftsman father – a man’s job she can’t even take credit for as she sells her exquisite creations to soldiers as souvenirs. When she runs into a pair of intelligence officers — an English captain and an American major who are investigating the forgery and trafficking of stolen works of art and antique furniture – she is unwelcomingly wrapped up in their search for items her father is said to have illicitly repaired. If you liked the movie The Monuments Men, about a WWII platoon sent to rescue stolen works of art from Nazi thieves, you’ll love Caterina’s journey around Italy and quest to clear her father’s name, with a bit of romance on the side.

Have a great week.
Katherine Granich

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