Belfast Telegraph

Back to school: Shopping for my son has taught me a real lesson

Case study

By Jonathan Bell

Five - it's a big age, a big marker and one that comes with a big price tag. My eldest hits the milestone in a fortnight and with it, the first day at "big school" is around the corner.

With that comes his first proper full uniform. A quiet Wednesday morning was the ideal time for some uniform shopping - or so the wife deemed.

So armed with a comprehensive list - two jumpers and a tie - the boy and I set off to the specific shop we were advised by our new school that had the jumpers that match its criteria.

As I scratched my head over what size to get - the question only mums can really answer in under 30 minutes - the boy's attention was caught by the myriad of multi-coloured school bags.

Sure what's a fiver - go ahead I thought. But then there was a pencil case needed and naturally a water bottle to slip into the bag's bottle holder.

A couple of pound here and there was not going to break the bank.

Having decided on a size - one that fitted and one that was bigger (and that has since been changed) - we headed to the till to ring up our slender pickings.

Two jumpers, a tie on a stretchy string, a school bag, banana pencil case and a water bottle came to a total of £62.98.

Yep - over £60 and there was me standing there in a shop with a till that said "cash only", eyes watering and looking around for my mum like the school boy I once was.

We still need a coat, trousers, shirts, shoes and a PE kit. At Asda, a grey v-neck jumper missing the coloured band around collar that our new school deems sets it apart from the rest is priced from £3. The ones we bought were magic jumpers - the woman in the shop told me so, as they apparently spring back to their normal size if they get stretched. I'm still waiting to see if that's their only trick.

Belfast Telegraph

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