On school uniforms.

You have conceived a great hatred for school uniform for four year olds.

Admittedly you started off by using the whole clothes issue as a whipping boy for all your anxiety about sending your little boy off to kiddie jail for the rest of his life.

This was easy.

It was easy because, when you dragged out the uniform details a full month before the Star was due in class, you discovered that the only information about it given was a link to a uniform website. The expectation being that you would be buying quite a lot of overpriced kit with the school’s name embroidered on it.

Except that the school was no longer using that particular company, and it had deleted all the school’s uniform requirements.

So you looked at the school website. Which hasn’t been updated for two years and has no information about the uniform, beyond a link to the defunct uniform company. It also has no pictures of children wearing school uniforms.

You phoned the school. Closed for the holidays.

Yes, you had visited the school on a number of occasions before. No you could not just cast about in your memory for colours. Unfortunately you have the worst visual memory on record. It’s a good thing you didn’t go with your instinct for maroon. That, you now realise, is what the pupils at the other local school wear.

So, rather mutinously, you left buying anything until you were finally able to get through to the school office, at which point Asda had largely sold out of what you needed.

So the Star started school with two thin jumpers from Sainsbury’s, the wrong kind of T-shirt and three pairs of trousers. This has grown to five pairs of trousers, five jumpers, including one of the extortionately expensive embroidered sweatshirts, six airtex tops, two pairs of shorts, some plimsoll, seven pairs of black socks and a school sponsored bookbag. The Star comes back covered in dirt every day. He’s four, they spend most of the day playing, not sitting quietly in a classroom and he eats his lunch without the aid of his Babushka tying a teatowl round his neck at the start of each meal. Dirt is inevitable. And since you refuse to be washing uniforms every day, which in any case would make the items fall apart and need replacing more quickly, so is the expansion of his wardrobe.

Which has cost a fortune. Or what for you is a fortune. Most of the Star’s clothes have hitherto been second-hand and cost pennies, if anything at all. It helps to live in middle class baby central, of course, but basically the Star has a lot of rather nice clothes you really do not care if he ruins. There are car boot sales every weekend.

It’s not that you don’t have the money. It just offends your sense of righteous economy to have to shell out for new clothes. Especially when the clothes in question are clothes you wouldn’t normally consider buying. Dull colours. Sweatshirts. Sweatshirts from Asda. AIRTEX TOPS? *shudder* FFS.

Well, I suppose you could have bought all the sweatshirts from the school sponsored website. But they are not noticeably more stylish, and they do cost ten pounds each. The logo being lovingly handstitched on by expert craftsmen no doubt. He has one, for high days and holidays. Except that, having sent him off in it today for the Harvest Festival it turns out the Reception class does not attend (that’s two tins of baked beans and a toothpaste tube you will never see again), he came back home without it. It got wet, apparently*. Sadly, it has just occurred to you that that may be the one item you have not got around to scrawling on with your now trusty laundry marker. Bugger.

Another thing that annoys you is the issue of practicality. For a four year old boy, is there really anything more durable than a good pair of jeans? Despite the fact that the jeans your son has had for the last four years have been worn by at least one little boy before yours, and washed repeatedly by his mother, only one pair has ever died on you to date. You are not convinced the same will be true of the school trousers, claims to be ‘teflon-coated’ notwithstanding. If just one pair does not last out the year, you will be most put out.

You will also be put out if the school starts in on environmental responsibility lessons any time soon. If you start getting grief from the Star about the need to recycle more, then frankly you will be unable to stop yourself getting out the green biro and writing a stiff note to the headteacher on the topic of hypocrisy, lip service and the inability to practice what you preach.

You wouldn’t mind so much if you could see a point to it. It’s not the cheap option, it’s not particularly practical so what is it? School cohesiveness? Facilitating bonding? Breaking down the barriers between the haves and have nots?

Bollocks. The Star has already noted that he and some of the other children do not have the same emblem embroidered on his jumpers and, god help us, airtex tops and fleeces as the rest of them. Frankly, far from fostering a sense of pride, this craze of personalised school uniforms just seems like the quickest way for the children to work out where they stand in the economic pecking order. Or possibly, to work out how mean their mothers are.

Anyway, you have rebelled. You have refused to buy your son regulation black shoes and sent him in his chavy flashing lights on the heels ones.

And you have also pushed the boat out and bought him the brightest coloured pair of trousers you could find for the rare occasions when he is not in class.

*The insanity of having water play facilities in the lightly supervised vicinity of only just not pre schoolers is another thing that makes you get a bit eyebrow raisy. At least they changed him this time. Mostly he just comes home decidedly damp around the edges. Which would be fine in summer, but right now it is a bit nippy for walking round wet.


9 thoughts on “On school uniforms.

  1. I’m so very glad I don’t have to deal with this. 🙂
    I was curious to note that the Star is starting school at 4. Is it compulsory to do that? Here kids start routinely at 5, with it being compulsory from 6.

    • *tongueout* for the not dealing.

      In the UK, it is compulsory to start school the term you turn 5. But while some areas have that as their way of organising the first year intake, my area likes all the kids to start in the September of the school year they turn five. You can opt out, but then you would be dumping your kid into a class who have already been together for up to two terms. So, here we are. I think it is too early myself for the full on school day. I am currently considering my options.

  2. This is bringing it all back. Have you had the tie issue yet? Years of making sure no cord goes around the tiny neck, then from one day onwards I found myself feeling obliged to tie a noose/tie around that very same tiny neck. With our primary it came half way through the autumn term, so I and my children became frogs being boiled slowly, accepting one more restriction after another.

    • Thankfully they do not do ties at my son’s school at all. It does rather defeat the ‘smart’ but of uniforms, but on the other hand I cannot imagine what havoc my son could get up to with a tie.

  3. Amy P says:

    EBay, now that you know colors? PaperKid’s school has a rack of used uniforms–we just raided it again, because her shirts are getting too short, and I missed a marker in a pocket when I did laundry last week. The only salvageable clothes in that load were the things that were inside-out…

    • The supermarket is probably cheaper than eBay, to be honest. Which almost certainly adds ‘unethical working conditions for the people who make them’ to the list of evils. *sigh*

  4. I sympathise entirely. My oldest went to preschool for two years uniform-free and now she got to uniform age. It cost an arm and a leg to buy everything from one of the TWO shops that sell the embroidered, poorly-cut, from-materials-ugly-as-hell uniforms, and because one single skirt had cost 45 euros, I decided to rebel and bought another dark-blue one, simple, but not according to the rules, from a regular shop (for 8 eur). To date, nobody noticed the difference, which left me muttering about the need to have the `official` stuff. And about the hypocrisy of saying this is to ensure social inclusion, when it is obvious that not everyone will be able to pay the ridiculous amount the uniform shop asks for the complete gear! The one thing I am happy about is that she doesn’t yet complain that she has to wear dark blue non-stop. (I rebelled some more, by the way, I bought her a dark blue duffle coat with – oops! – red buttons!). I take comfort in one thing, though – my second one is also a girl, the uniforms will be worn to bits!

  5. kelli says:

    I found that I very, very rapidly adjusted my level of tolerance for acceptable levels of dirt. Also, shorts are better than trousers as legs are wipe-clean.

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