Two weeks into the new school term and I think we can safely say that all parents have experienced at least one of the following scenarios.
The school shoes that you spent five hours buying, leaving even the most patient of qualified shoe fitters frazzled, have one large scuff mark on the toe – thanks to a surreptitious kick of the wall in a fit of back-to-school pique.
And/or at least one item of PE kit has gone missing, most likely the most expensive and the one that is only available from a supplier in Orkney.
This item will also be the only one that you failed to put a name tag in.
And finally, your child has pimped their school uniform, blatantly ignoring the school’s uniform rules.
Thanks to a firm letter from the school, you are now marked as a troublesome parent who allows their child to come to school in slightly stretchy trousers.
At my old school, with the stiff yellow shirts (no comfy polo shirts in my day) and stripy school ties, us girls tried harder to flout the strict uniform rules than we did at learning our French verbs.
We tried to sneak on leg warmers over our regulation black woolly tights, pixie boots on our feet and that schoolgirl classic ‘roll up your skirt waistband to make it shorter’.
Although, for who’s benefit I don’t know – it was an all-girls school and the only men around were a middle-aged geography teacher and the crusty old caretaker.
Nothing much has changed.
If you are on a bus or walking along the street at school run time, you may sometimes be mistaken for believing that there is no school uniform policy.
Ties, if worn, are arranged in a number of different ways. Jumpers are on, off, tied around the waist, or dragging through puddles. Hair is tied tight up, or lolls loosely across the face. And shoes are flopping loose at the heel or barely held up by their laces.
For me, though, this isn’t a sign of ‘broken Britain’ or the beginning of a career in looting trainers and electrical goods.
Nor is it a message to education secretary Michael Gove that we need to bring in the SS to run schools.
In fact, I am in constant wonderment at the creativity shown by children to use what they have to express themselves and just within the realms of acceptability.
My younger daughter is going through a somewhat protracted phase of being very fussy about what she wears.
Things need to feel ‘right’ and her current preferred choice of uniform is boy’s shorts.
What to wear on her legs in the colder months has been a moot point, though.
Ankle socks will be too exposing, tights too sweaty.
But thanks to the rather welcoming lax uniform rules at her school, she has taken to wearing garishly bright over-the-knee socks.
This hasn’t prevented her from learning to read, add up or get on with her classmates.
She looks great and it will be easy to spot her in a snow drift.
I think it would be fair to say that however strict the school is about their uniform policy, pupils will always find a way to stand out.
So be proud and pop on those leg warmers!