SCHOOL DAYS

My four-year-old daughter started "big girl" school this week, and she is so proud. Like 90% kids in England, she wears a uniform. (In the US, fewer than 25% do.) When she first saw her uniform over the summer, Anne was upset that no part of it was pink. But then she realized she would get to wear a hat just like Madeline's in the books about the twelve little girls in two straight lines... And she noticed that her father's old L.L. Bean bathrobe was exactly the same green and blue plaid as her new dresses. Bizarrely, this made her like them more. But her devotion to her school uniform would not be complete until she laid eyes on her classmates, all identically dressed and ready to make friends.

Shopping for Anne's uniform took the better part of a month. We measured her, placed our order, had to send half of it back for smaller sizes, and sent the new, smaller sizes out to a tailor on a tip from a friend whose daughter is in the same class. (THanks, Hannah!) When they came back--four dresses, two coats, two sets of athletic "kit"--they were finally a perfect fit. Then I realized I had not ordered the right size in one of the two required styles of socks, and had to place another order. Anne needed all-white athletic shoes with velcro tabs, extra Wellington boots to leave at school, and a new pair of ballet shoes in addition to blue Mary Janes for every day. By the first day of school, Anne had nearly grown out of some of these items already! But I know that the only reason this seems daunting now is that we are new to it. In no time, Anne will become the expert on her own uniform, and we will appreciate the simplicity of her wearing the same thing every day. We can save our negotiations over the pink tutu for the weekends.

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