Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Case of the Incredible Growing Jumper

Welcome back.  This week I promised you a peek at the lost property cupboard.  I know you don't want to deal with it, but it does need addressing.  At this time of year, with all those end of term sports days and school shows, it's easy to lose your child's clothes and become muddled.  My advice is: put their name inside their garments.

The lost property cupboard is one thing that hasn't changed since our own school days.  It is always in a dimly lit area and everything in it is smelly and limp. Even the most colourful clothes take on a sea-sick pallor once they fall into the hopeless pit of Lost Property.  L.P. tends to be located somewhere unpleasant: outside the visitor's toilet or in the sick bay, or matron's room where headlice needles and ointments are kept.

At any given point at infant school, you will hear the cries of some poor child being dragged off to the L.P.  Their fate is sealed.  Punching and kicking, their soiled pants are going to be replaced with school pants: grey, baggy, elastic hanging out, last worn by a troll - the utter humiliation.  It's worse when you know who wore them yesterday.

In order to spare your child this agony, it's absolutely essential that you send them off to school dehydrated.   It doesn't matter if their lips are chapped.  They'll understand once you explain.

The effect of the school pants is instantly alienating.

Despite my efforts to label my children's clothes, my son recently came home with a very tight jumper on.  The next day, I scanned the playground.  It didn't take me long to find what I was looking for.  There, sat inside one of the wooden play huts on his own, was a little boy in the reception class, staring at his jumper sleeves.  The sleeves were astonishingly long.  He flopped them about, transfixed, marvelling at his secret.  Look at that.  Wow.   How did that happen? My sleeves have grown overnight.  They have grown, they have actually grown!

I explained the mishap to the little boy's mum, who was very nice and hadn't noticed that her son had someone else's jumper on.  Then she frowned at him and said, "Hmm, your arms do seem very long today, Harry..."  I'm not sure that she had been listening to me.

The point is - if you thought that magic didn't lurk in lost property, you were wrong.  Magic is everywhere - even in jumper mix-ups.  

Next time we will look in more detail at how to bring the magic back into your children's lives - without having the emergency services on standby.

Cath Weeks is author of The Mood Ring.

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