Trying not to Sweat the Small Stuff is an ongoing personal battle of mine. I am reformed to the extent that I can button it when a packet of Penguins disappear from the cupboard, or the remains of a minor amateur haircut lie on the bathroom floor and even when a game of noughts and crosses has been played out in felt tip on the knee of a pair of jeans, but there is one group of items which I cannot bear to see abused: stationery.
Now I love stationery. I love pens and pencils, rubbers and pencil sharpeners, paper and rulers. The sight of a new bic biro (has to be black) or a V7 Hi-Tecpoint (red or green) warms my heart and for me the excitement of a French hypermarket lies not in the wine aisle but in the vast choice of Oxford notebooks, with their elaborate lining and grid patterns and covers and superior bindings. The French know a thing or two about good quality notebooks.
A little part of the joy of getting to the end of the summer holidays is the opportunity to procure stationery for the new school year. I take care in choosing geometry sets, calculators, the softest coloured pencils, a packet of bic biros, pencils with rubbers on the end and just the right pencil-case. And then I label everything and feel joyous.
After a week, no less, three days, most of the perfect contents of the carefully chosen pencil-case will have been almost entirely lost or disfigured and there will be a note in the school planner saying ‘J did not have anything to write with today’ or ‘R does not appear to have a pencil-case’ and I will literally shout until I am hoarse. I will shout because someone has sharpened an entire pencil into their pencil case, I will shout because a rubber has been bitten into tiny pieces and I will shout because the bic biro has been sharpened, the top lost and the end crushed into pointy shards. On Sunday evening I will fume whilst trying to gather some semblance of a replacement pencil case together and contemplate writing to school to explain that I am not a some dope-smoking sofa mother who would send her child to school without something to write with, much as the evidence might say otherwise. I know, it’s not all about me and both children bite and and snap and chew because they are anxious at school. I know all the reasons and I know that shouting will not improve matters. But pencil case destruction REALLY PISSES ME OFF.
This has been going on for months and months now and to avoid the helpless shouting and nagging I have devised a system which I know will not work, but I am enjoying the execution of it nevertheless. Here is is.
It is the stationery draw of sanity. It is mainly supplied from the pound shop or Morrisons and the Crayola pencils are for homework only. If anyone has lost or destroyed an item then they must kneel before me and buy a replacement with their hard-earned pocket money. Then they must sit in shame whilst I label the item and deliver a sermon about the eternal wonderment of the brand new pen. I know, you won’t read anything like this by experts in child trauma, but I bet they’ve never had to clean up after all the ink has been sucked out of a biro.
I am trying, hopelessly perhaps, to try and build a connection between earning money, buying something, breaking that something, and the natural consequence to that. I expect to be blogging about how consequences don’t work soon enough, but for now, just indulge me a little and let me enjoy my stationery draw of sanity.