updated 30 Apr 2012, 06:49
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Tue, Jan 03, 2012
The New Paper
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Splurge to ease son into new school
by Maureen Koh

And it's not for Christmas presents.

The mission is to prepare my son and daughter for that first day back to school.

Oh, and year after year, I repeat the arguments with their father who doesn't quite approve of spending close to $250 on stationery or buying a $299 school bag.

It's ridiculous, insists my husband, to pay $89 for a pair of school shoes. Even more so when we have to buy more than one pair.

But seriously, I really don't think I'm being extravagant - I'm certain there are many other parents who spend even more.

No, it's not like one editor suggested: "By any chance, are you trying to keep up with the Joneses?"

Er... if it helps, two good friends have decided the reason I offer for the seeming splurge is justified. They too have taken to spending more for quality.

Simply put, "quality equals durability".

Don't you just love how that pen writes so smoothly that even the ugliest handwriting looks good?

A pencil case embossed with the emblem of one's favourite football club can certainly perk up the B-O-R-I-N-G moments in class.

(I'm sure there are many of these moments.)

Or, how light the shoes are - now physical education can actually be fun.

Do I even need to spell out "super light" and "ergonomic" for school bags?

Tobe sure, everything we parents do, we do it for our children. School can be a chore, and it can be painful especially when the homework piles up.

My rationale is simple: Let's add some fun and colour to school life. I still remember that horrific first week when my husband and I had to pack our son - the older one - to Primary 1.

This correspondent, despite being hardened by having to report on some of the most tragic stories,was reduced to tears.

Not once, but twice in three days.

The first was when this set of parents were sidelined during the children's recess.

I spotted my son turning his head about frantically, trying to search for his "shorter and less pushier than the others" parents. He was on the verge of tears when he finally saw my fat hands waving above the heads of the other adults.

Seeing his toothy grin and the immense relief in his wet eyes, I had to turn around and bury my face into my husband's hug. That was separation anxiety No. 1.

Then came the third day when parents were no longer permitted to walk the children up to the school hall on the second floor.

After my son planted his goodbye kiss, he trudged - yes, T-R-U-D-G-E-D - up the long flight of steps, gingerly balancing a packed-to-the-max (but thank goodness, "super light" and "ergonomic") school bag and an art folio.

A tight squeeze came over my heart. I could hardly breathe. I was instantly reduced to tears and sounded barely coherent as I wailed over the mobile phone to my husband.

"Stupid school. Stupid rules. Oh, my poor son," I had said to the man, who still teases me till this day about the incident.

Ask any parent - okay, any mother - and chances are, at least half will have some anecdote (amusing or embarrassing) to share about their child's first day of school.

It's a big deal. Really.Simply because mums find it hardest to let go of their little ones.

An editor - a man (and a father) - wondered aloud if readers would really be interested in what happens on the first day of school.

Of course. Simply because that first day marks another chapter in our child's milestones in life.

While we can't be there for them at all hours of the day, we do what we can to make it an exciting and delightful journey for them.

Yes, like splurging onthe best tools for school.

By the way, my son embarks on another new chapter on Tuesday - this time in Secondary School.

Excuse me while I get the tissue paper ready.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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