Easing back to school

13 January 2022

Easing back to school

2021 was a tough year for my teenagers, with lockdowns and home learning, so the second week of the new year feels way too soon to be thinking about back to school. Surprisingly the kids don’t agree - wanting to get back to reconnect with their friends - when I tell them we’re off to do our back to school shopping. They’re relieved we’re going to Albany Mega Centre because they know they’ll get exactly what they want. I suspect what they want may be different to what they need!

Oliver is off to college and is both excited and nervous. I remember being a ‘third-former’ and how that felt so I’m being as supportive as possible. He needs a new laptop, one that’s hardwearing and will survive the rough treatment he gives his things. We enter Noel Leeming and I look around all confused – I’m a complete technophobe when it comes to computers. Fortunately, a young salesperson spots my fear and takes control of the situation. She tells me about the models available and the school discounts available on each one. Oliver picks the one with the most bells and whistles. I ask him a couple of questions about whether he’ll actually use these things, narrowly avoiding the teenage tantrum by agreeing to go with his choice. I justify it to myself by saying that higher quality will mean it lasts longer.

Charli, as she now wants to be called (what was wrong with Charlotte?) will be in year 11. Her appearance and clothes have become an obsession. Fortunately, school uniform takes away most of the day-to-day challenges. It doesn’t however make other clothes shopping any less traumatic.

We make a direct line to Rebel Sport in search of another pair of sports shoes. Charli plays netball, soccer, hockey and tennis, meaning sport shoes have a short life at our place. She quickly abandons me so she can make her own choices. This lets me focus on sport shoes for Oliver. Unlike his sister, the closest he comes to sport is playing the FIFA game on Playstation. That doesn’t stop him needing new sneakers for PE and we work through the options. All he cares about is that it’s a ‘cool’ brand – fortunately Rebel has all the coolest.

We find Charli with not only a new pair of sport shoes but a whole selection of sporting apparel. We have our usual, “do you really need all that?” discussion which, like always, ends with her telling me, “You know nothing,” and that, “You’re being unreasonable.” Not surprisingly, we got everything she wanted.

Next stop, Warehouse Stationery. We’ve got lists from both schools and that makes it very easy. This is the place to get everything in one go. Books, pens, rulers, pencil, and everything else – it’s all here and there’s so many options to choose from. I tell Charli she’ll be spending many hours studying at her desk and we should buy a proper chair. She looks at me like I’m speaking a foreign language and wanders off to look at the options, eventually deciding nothing suits her style (which I suspect doesn’t include her ‘sitting on a chair doing study!’)

We keep walking around the Mega Centre and both kids want to go to pop into Cotton On. While Charli wanders off so she’s not seen with us, Oliver sees a t-shirt he likes. I’m not sure it’s what I’d choose for him but he’s using his Christmas present money so I don’t get much of a say here. By this point Charli is in the changing room with a huge selection to try on. I definitely don’t get a say in her shopping choices, she’s using her own money, so I have to smile and live with her selection.

Charli and Oliver head off to Burger King for a snack while I collapse in one of the comfy seats, with a coffee and muffin, at Easy Life. It’s been a full-on afternoon and I’m exhausted. Thanks to Albany Mega Centre, getting everything for back at school was super easy. I’m happy, the teenagers are happy and back to school shopping is knocked off for another year – a good result all around.

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