Sam Curtis: Like odd socks and keys, where do the letters go?
T here would have been a time when finding a letter from school stuffed in the bottom of my daughter's book bag could have sent me into a blind panic.
Ever since Lottie has attended nursery, slips of paper have haphazardly made it home containing vital information about school life, most of which have required a pound coin, a morning off work and some kind of fancy dress outfit to be thrown together.
Cheery little reminders along the lines of: it's Red Nose Day – pay £1 and your child can dress like a tomato. Also, please send your child with any spare pennies to help us complete a Penny Mile in the playground. Red Noses are also available to purchase at our Red Nose reading breakfast. We look forward to seeing you there!
(Most events seem to cost £1, apart from coffee mornings where tea served in a polystyrene cup with a homemade cupcake sets you back 60p. Bargain. If only I could find out when they are taking place...)
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Or: Topsy Turvy Day for Children In Need. An invitation for your child to come dressed in their pyjamas, two left feet, socks on their hands, whatever they like! Get creative and give £1 to Pudsey.
Or, on a more serious note, I saw this letter only after I had got into trouble: Please do not leave unattended dogs tied up outside the school gates at going home time as some children are scared of dogs.
(I was consequently mortified when I was collared by the school secretary and told off for leaving Bertie basset, the least scary creature anyone could meet but there you are, them's the rules, just two days after the 'polite request' had been dispatched). I almost told her I hadn't seen the letter because 'my dog had eaten it, Miss', but decided better of it.
In fairness to Lottie's school, the letters usually come out in plenty of time to warn parents about fundraising events, trips and chances to get involved with the school community.
Children simply put them in their bag and pass them on.
Except they don't, do they? I'm not sure what happens after Lottie is handed hers but they invariably don't make it a far as my grasping hands.
I miss out on all sorts of communications and were it not for the fact I have friends with children at the same school, I might never know what's going on.
Lottie often has only a vague recollection about the events in question.
The other night, we had tears before bedtime because she was convinced that it was parents' evening and her best friend was going to see the class teacher with her mummy and I was a bad mummy because I hadn't returned the slip... I asked Mr C if he knew anything about a letter, a slip, a meeting, as he does the morning school run four times a week to my one and is privy to more school chit chat. (Is it not universally accepted that you talk to teachers at the morning drop off? Try getting their attention at 3.15pm and see how far you get. They have after school clubs to run, marking to do, lives beyond the playground to live. They mostly don't have time for parents flapping over errant bits of paper, unless you are really persistent and I am mostly too polite to persist.)
Suffice to say, I drew a blank with Mr C. No, he didn't have a clue what Lottie or I were wittering on about.
I am still in the dark even now. The next time I am in school (tomorrow) I will try and make headway on the matter without sounding like I am completely clueless. Which I am.
However, some progress is being made. First week back after the half term and Lottie has produced two letters, intact, with no scribbles, dribbles or rips, from her book bag. Turns out yesterday was Bike Day.
Given that her bike has had a puncture since last August, she was probably one of the few children who took her scooter to school instead.
She wasn't happy about it but I figure learning to improvise in times of adversity is a good lesson to learn.
Who needs to be like all the other kids? It's good to think outside the box. Plus, wearing your school uniform when everyone else has donned neon brights shows individuality. That's what I told Mr C to say when she asked him why he hadn't fixed her tyre and she was complaining how he was 'almost as rubbish as mummy for not knowing that Bike Day was a dress-up day'.
Weekly columnist Sam Curtis, 42, is mum to Lottie, 7, and lives in Lincoln in a house that's not as tidy as she'd like with her football writer husband Leigh.