When these three words all beginning with S are uttered together, they have the power of filling the calmest, most collected parents into a state of hysteria.
Let me explain…
You are surrounded by kids of all ages, some in pushchairs, some toddling and some stropping because they just don’t understand why their parents are insisting that they come here. It’s bedlam. There are empty boxes, spewing out sheets of white tissue paper onto the floor. There are random, abandoned coloured socks, dotted around the room. Parents are looking at a screen with a number on it, waiting for their turn, their eyes darting this way and that, making sure there are no queue jumpers. It’s noisy, all sorts of sounds blending into one big hullabaloo. There’s crying from those who do not wish to be there. There are terse words from a mother disapproving of her child’s choice: ‘No you can’t have the dolly in the heel’ she shrieks. There are children sprawled out along the benches, yawning with boredom. There’s a child with a lion painted on his face (well at least I think it’s a lion, the child has obviously been crying and now resembles something out of a horror film). There are grandmothers offering to pay. There are Dads looking at the football scores in the newspaper pretending to be anywhere else but here. There are those in the queue giving up the will to live.
Then there are the fortunate ones who have got what they came for, sitting smugly and not feeling the need to hurry. There’s an excited, announcement from a child who is posing in front of the mirror and claiming that she is a ‘big girl. Her mother responding with a sickly sweet sing-song voice, proudly agreeing with her whilst taking a photograph on her phone to ‘send to Daddy’. The other parents just glare at her, wishing she’d just get on with it, pay and make room for them. There are those children who have made their selection and have been instructed to go for a walk, which, is a mission in itself as they tiptoe over stretched out bodies, boxes and discarded socks. There are those at the counter, taking a sharp intake of breath when they hear the price, proceeding to pay anyway but politely dismissing the offer of a special cream to polish up scratches. Then there are those that have made it, they’ve survived the ordeal and have relief written all over their faces as they hurriedly head for the door.
Yep you’ve guessed it, it’s the dreaded three Ss. SCHOOL. SHOE. SHOPPING. Every parent’s back to school nightmare.