Friday, September 22, 2006

RM August 31 - Cost of back to school

Well the holidays are nearly over and all over the country parents are heaving a sigh of relief, or are they? Small mortgages are being taken out to cover the cost of school books and uniforms, not to mention schools fees or voluntary contributions.

So parents aren’t sighing at all.

When the Young Wan made the transition from primary to secondary school I was floored by how much it all cost.

Her uniform cost an arm and a leg. The coat alone cost €60 and it all had to be a particular coat from a specialised shop.

Then there were the books. We had a list to get as long as your arm. And it felt rather like owning a car, not that I have but I imagine.
You know if your car breaks down, it doesn’t cost €20 to get fixed, no, not at all. You are more likely to be forking out either your week’s wages or a large percentage of your month’s wages.
The books were costly. There were few costing around the €10 mark, but there were many costing €40+. I spent hundreds. What is worse is that you should see the state of them now two years on, I could cry. They are dog eared, battered, graffitted on and are generally a disgrace.

I turned down the school’s recommended art kit, I would compile that myself. And I refused to buy the calculator and other stuff like that.
But I still spent a fortune. The whole thing cost more than a grand. I am still paying it off on my credit card. And now I have to get more books, more bits and pieces for her uniform. Whoever said education is free here is a bloody idiot.

While those who are on social welfare get some help towards uniform costs, it is inadequate to say the least. What do they do if they have a couple of kids in secondary school? The mind boggles.

The Young Wan is now going into third year, or Junior Cert year, and I am absolutely dreading it. I am dreading a year of constant nagging to do homework. I am dreading a year of nagging over studying or her organisation (or not) of notes. I am dreading it.

But I have taken some action. I am organising grinds because she lacks confidence in maths and hates science, so any help along these lines will be gratefully received by both of us.

We are also planning more fun activities because from Sunday to Thursday she is mine, she will do homework and study, nothing hectic but she will do a little from September if it kills me. The weekends are hers to do with what she likes. We have enrolled her in a drama class – she will absolutely love it. We are looking at guitar lessons. Basically I am looking for things to occupy her, for her to have fun and meet new and lovely teenagers who are on her wavelength.

For now though she is still on holiday and loving every moment. She has been on wee dates all under the watchful eye of her Nanny. How uncool is that, to have a date and have your Nanny in the background. And fair play to her she didn’t think of grumbling at all, she just enjoyed her date with the little fella who kept telling her how beautiful she is.

So now after all that she has to come home to dirty Dublin, start a tough school year and I am sure she is dreading coming home. But I cannot wait to see her, the flat has been far too quiet without her. So roll on the year, let’s get cracking.

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