Thursday, 13 September 2007

Mummy on the Edge - Families NW Magazine Sept Oct 2007

Mummy on the Edge
Angelina Melwani goes back to school

When I was little, the words “Back to school” held an exciting cache of anticipation. They heralded the close of the yawning chasm between summer and autumn term and an end to the relentless boredom of staying at home and later on, working in my parents’ shop. They also were a signal that it was time to “Buy Stuff”. Mmm, the feel of pristine paper and the smell of fresh crayons.

Now, however, even before the holidays start, we are attacked with visions of smiley, cheeky, immaculate children in school uniform; annoying inserts on a covert mission to jump out of the local paper, when least expected, reminding us (ok, just me) that we are useless and disorganised and need to start buying NOW. Me? I ignore them, of course; after all there’s still six week’s growing time to consider. I followed that tack that last year and vaguely remember coming back from the Watford Harlequin with only two pairs of plimsolls and a migraine just a week before mini-me was due to start school - having found no other correct item of uniform to speak of.

But there’s no point panicking. Gaaaaaah! Stop. No. Calm down. At the last minute, you stick an order with M&S and then run to BHS and furiously rip off the rack anything marked reduced in the right size and colour (even if it’s for the opposite sex – who’ll notice if little Billy is wearing a skirt instead of trousers?) And, somehow, if you believe hard enough, it all works out in the end. On her first day at school, Mini-Me looked like one of those cheeky, happy advert children, resplendent in shiny patent shoes, tie and book bag. All that was missing was a bowler hat and umbrella and she could have gone off to work in the City.


It’s not just uniform you have to consider. Clubs, activities, classes. Every thing needs to be booked in advance and coordinated with military precision. Logistically it very much helps if you have a friend whose child does the same activity. I transport five year old Mini-Me and her Best Friend to weekly drama lessons in term time and appreciate this for the cultural opportunity that it is. For during the forty minutes it takes to get there and back, they unwittingly transform into their alter-egos, pensioners Ethel and Enid, bickering all the way to Bingo and back. It really is a most amusing form of performance art and something they don’t enjoy me pointing out, which makes it even more fun when I do.

For Mini-Me, having attended for over a year, ballet is out. Her ballet teacher says she “talks too much about subjects unrelated to ballet, and doesn’t listen to instructions”. Of course, I hear instead, “the class is too constrictive of her creativity and imagination and she is better suited to a less regimental activity”. At time of writing, Mini-Me is on a two year waiting list for gymnastics and I’m still waiting to hear whether she has a place at swimming which, by all accounts, I should have booked before she was conceived.

Don’t forget to check out the Clubs and Classes Feature on page ___.
Angelina Mapara runs Sing and Sign baby signing courses in Harrow, Bushey, Stanmore and Rickmansworth. More info at