Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sticker shock, part deux (or: Bring on the $45 pizza lunches, which now seem remarkably inexpensive)

The kids and I had a very productive morning today. We took the tube to Hampstead, where we visited Julia's school (also Evan's school come January) to fill out paperwork, and then we visited The Flat That Is Nearly Ours But About Which I Am Afraid To Say Too Much For Fear Of Jinxing Things to take some quick measurements. Both kids were very well behaved (though I fear Evan already has a bit of a reputation for exuberance at the kids' school) and the trip went without serious incidence. Julia's all set to start school on Monday, and we even came home with a couple of loaner hand-me-down uniforms to get us through the first few days of school.

It was obvious from the look of horror on the school secretary's face when I suggested that Julia could simply wear a white cardigan over the loaner dress until we've managed to purchase the navy blue one which is part of the school uniform that wearing anything other than regulation school clothing just. will. not. do. It all seemed a bit extreme to me, but "when in Rome" and all that, so I cheerfully promised to call and order uniforms right away. True to my word, I got on the phone with the uniform store after we got back to our temporary home to place a "bare essentials" order that would get us through the first few weeks. And that's where my day went a little haywire, folks. Because that "bare essentials" order? It cost me 242.33 pounds. Not horrified enough yet? Then please allow me to do the math for you Americans who are perhaps struggling a bit with the exchange rate. I JUST SPENT $455.97 ON LESS THAN A WEEK'S WORTH OF CLOTHING. FOR A 4 YEAR OLD. A VERY MESSY, STAIN PRONE 4 YEAR OLD. A 4 YEAR OLD WHO HAS BEEN KNOWN TO HAVE ALARMINGLY EXTREME GROWTH SPURTS WITH LITTLE OR NO NOTICE. And I am nowhere near done.

Still to come? The navy duffle coat all school children are expected to wear in inclement weather (59.99, or $112.88) The matching gloves (2.75, or $5.17) and hat (6.99, or $13.15), also required. The school sweater (13.99, or $26.32) with its pretty school badge. The grey wool blazer with braiding and school badge, a hideous piece of apparel that I cannot imagine putting on any child of mine under any circumstances but for which I still must fork over a whopping 77.99 (that's $146.75, people) to purchase. And oh, yeah, maybe a second pair of pants.

I certainly hope that all of this unattractive, yet mandatory clothing comes with a complimentary barf bag (ideally one embroidered with the school badge, though I'd settle for a generic version). Because I feel more than a little sick right now...

13 Comments:

Blogger Adele said...

Wow- I must ask however, with the slightly more expensive prices, is the salary higher as well to accomodate? I know that when we were thinking of moving to another state, the salary was lower, but so was everything else.???

3:15 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

We were also shocked at the costs when we first got to Germany (and Berlin is nothing compared to London). I think you’ll find that as you settle in ex-pat life, you will be able to find less expensive alternatives for many of the things you need. It is all about getting to know the area and where to do your shopping. Admittedly this is hard to do when you haven’t even moved into your own neighborhood yet.

Might I take a moment to promote my employer? The girls and boys clothing sections of ebay.co.uk have large selections of school uniforms. You may not be able to the get crested embroidered stuff (I’m not really sure), but the skirts and shirts which go under the sweater etc. are all there. ;)

4:59 PM  
Blogger Tenille said...

Ha ha, "barf bag." Hee!

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

un. real. And I'd be all about e-bay too, at this point...

6:47 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

If eBay doesn't come through, there's always homeschooling? Wow. And WOW.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Denzylle said...

Well, you've chosen your school already so, presumably, you have no plans to change your choice just because of the cost of a uniform, but I assume it's a private school as opposed to a state school, with such a strict uniform policy?

Hampstead has some of London's *best* state schools...

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Carol said...

So....should all Chanukah gifts this year be monetary and inflated due to the exchange rate? Just kidding....

11:43 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

Yikes! I vote for ebay too...

12:51 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Oh. My. God. That's all.

3:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh. My. Gosh. Sticker shock to say the least!!!

5:42 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Adele, yes, the salary is somewhat adjusted. We won't have trouble putting food on the table after outfitting Julia for school. But really, I think I'd be horrified by these prices no matter WHAT our income... I can think of no salary that would make a $146 blazer for a 4 year old seem OK to me!

Dan, I will definitely be haunting ebay, just as soon as I can figure out where I can cut corners on this stuff. And guess where our stash is going when we leave here? :)

Aunt Carol, instead if inflated monetary gifts, how about a lifetime supply of stain removers and a small box to stuff the kids into each night so that they don't ever grow? :)

Denzyelle, unfortunately, those state schools are well known for their successes... no spots to be found. The idea of shuttling my kids all over creation (either on the Tube, which is nerve wracking with my "suburban" kids, or in a car I've yet to figure out how to safely drive) to get to a state school with a Reception opening is what led us to private school in the first place.

And to all of you, thanks for sharing my horror! All contributions to the "buy my kid an ugly pinafore" fund gratefully accepted!

9:03 AM  
Anonymous orangemanmike said...

Maybe you should put a Donations link on your blog. I could repay any poker losses to Paul in clothing scrip!

1:14 PM  
Blogger Rosemary said...

Have you asked the school if there is a uniform swap place? My kids went to private school and at the beginning of the year they held a uniform swap. Every little bit helps, especially when you are also paying the private school tuitioin!

8:55 PM  

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