As always, we were lulled into a lovely, fuzzy, false sense of security for the first week of term when BAM! The inevitable 'club sign up' reminder came crashing into the inbox.
Mothers were screaming into lukewarm coffee cups all over town "Nooooo, pleeeeeease, tell me it's not happening again!"
The usual top dogs were sitting smugly on the list - the king pins: gymnastics, football and streetdance (a new addition to the gang).
Then the slightly less cool crew - karate, art, drama.
And at the bottom sat the right geeks that know deep down it's hit or miss whether they'll even get to go ahead or not; the ones that all the parents like, but the kids...hmmm, not so much - science, knitting, touch typing.
A few years ago, in the blissfully ignorant days of reception (when personally I was relieved my child had made it into the 'I can try to wipe my own bum' club) I remember laughing almost mockingly when a more experienced friend told me she set her alarm for 6am on dreaded club sign up day to 'log on' and get 'clubbing.'
Utterly absurd behaviour I thought to myself. My children don't need all these extra curricular activities anyway. What's wrong with time at home making paper chains (which of course we do, regularly)?
But inevitably they did start wanting to go to after school clubs. And I encouraged them to.
That moment when you think you only have two minutes to get to school pick up and you're stuck in traffic an hour away, then you suddenly remember it's 'make ornaments out of your own bogies' club, is pure euphoria.
The relief can only be compared to realising that you're out of all sugar fixes when things are kicking off at kids' tea, only to discover that lonely, discarded party bag from 2012 down the back of the sofa containing not only a couple of drumsticks, but also a few packets of those parma violet swizzels. We all know they're disgusting, but they'll do.
So, I joined the army of deranged mothers, setting up five different reminders on my phone and an alarm wake up at 6am.
But I realised things had got out of hand last year as I was racing down the dual carriageway, trying to get to something on time. I naively thought I'd nailed the club sign ups early that morning, when a little voice squeaked from the back, "You did sign me up for Technokids didn't you Mummy?"
TECHNOKIDS...What the...? "No! I did not sign you up for Technokids! Why on earth would I pay extra money for you to go on a screen at school when you do that at home after school anyway?"
"But that's the one I really want to do. All my friends are doing it."
My stress levels hit the roof, my palms were sweating. I precariously steered the speeding car with my right hand as I used my left hand to grab my wallet and yank the credit card out. I then began to attempt to log in and pay (do they really need the expiry date again?) all at 60mph, when I suddenly stopped myself. What was I thinking?
I could see the headline, "Crazy, irresponsible mother writes off car while trying to sign child up to a club for screen addicted children while speeding on the dual carriageway."
This was a step too far. Did it really matter if my child did any clubs after school? It certainly wasn't worth this reckless and, quite frankly, dangerous behaviour.
I've heard many a tale of mothers logging on at 4am to find that gymnastics (always the big fave - extremely difficult to get into, let me tell you) has already sold out. And they have to break it to their little gymnastics' protégée (these protégées who often get stuck halfway over on a roly poly) that, in fact, Mummy failed to get them a place.
And they wait, and wait for the ridiculously dramatic meltdown that never happens because it seems their little 'Louis Smith' couldn't give two hoots. Minecraft is calling and that's far more exciting.
Perhaps it's us mothers who have turned this into the fiasco that it has become. The children would be just as happy coming home to a hot choc and a go on the Boppit.
And let's not forget the expense of it all. This is the local state school, so costs are kept to a minimum - we are very lucky to have such talented people giving up their time. However, costs do still have to be covered and before you know it your weekly wages are funding the macramé club.
So, this Saturday morning was sign up day - alarms were being set on Friday night all over the area. But we went cold turkey. No clubs. Yes, you heard me correctly - no netball, no funakoshi karate, no boules, no fuzzy felts and certainly no gymnastics.
And I had a lie in - until 7.30am at least.
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