I have lived in Copenhagen for many years and I thought that the days where I didn’t understand things had passed until Friday when I went to the parents’ introduction evening at my son’s new school. My terms of reference for starting primary school are well over thirty years old or via friends’ pictures on Facebook and also from a different country but somehow I thought it would be the same. Not so. I guess for people who have been to school here or have kids already in the system a lot of what I was told would seem obvious. The fact that children don’t wear uniforms here made me think that I wouldn’t need to buy anything school specific. But it seems that uniform lists are a big help to the uninitiated.
So I found myself dashing into H&M (the equivalent of a school outfitters here) at the weekend to get a sports kit for my son plus schlepping around the shops to find the winged unicorn of white soled trainers for sports morning. It seemed that the multitude of better informed (or more sensible) parents had been there before me and there was almost nothing available in any size above a larger toddler in sports clothes (a lesson that seemed very familiar from his first Sct Lucia when I realised too late the need for a white top a few days before the event and about three weeks after everyone else). I found the last remaining pair of white soled trainers in his size (the choice was of two styles in all the sports shops in Frederiksberg Centre) and promptly bought them regardless of the fact he hadn’t tried them on.
His backpack was also a source of some angst and again I felt my previous rejoicing on lack of uniforms here was somewhat premature (although I still believe in my sentiments on that post). He is only five years old and most of the backpacks were the same size as him and unnecessarily huge. We settled on one but then doubt crept in as to whether it was the right thing – those homogenous little book bags doled out by primary schools in the UK suddenly seemed so much more appealing. I have to say the choice, as with most things here, was pretty limited so I am sure he has the right thing and probably the same bag as many of his classmates.
I am sure there are so many more areas of the next few months of proper schooling that are going to catch me out but hopefully the international nature of his new school will mean that differences are not so unusual. At least the stress of last-minute shopping (last-minute anything always throws me into a tailspin) has taken my mind off the huge step he is taking this week.