parents

This is, without a doubt, the worst part of sending the kids back to school.

Bern with some of her exercise-book-owning children.

I’d like to think that I’m a fairly intelligent, competent person. That as an educated, independent woman who can open stubborn jam jars and change a tyre, I can also be counted on to perform the everyday parenting basics.

Why then, do I find it so bloody difficult to apply a simple sheet of clear plastic to a school exercise book?

I have three children, all of school age, each with an average of 15 books to cover come January. That, for all of you playing along at home, means that there are approximately 45 books that need to be covered in contact per year. Yes, I DID ace maths at school, thanks for asking.

I digress.

So, yes, the books. See the thing is, these cannot be covered in simply any old thing.  Oh no, apparently, unless it ends up looking like a Disney Princess projectile vomited over an exercise book, book, no one can rest.

And yet I do understand this passion to have schoolbooks covered in something that they love. When I was a kid, going back to school to start the new year with freshly covered school books was one of life’s greatest and exact pleasures. Although back then our books were covered in brown paper and the only colour came from the pictures I sourced from Smash Hits. From memory, Corey Haim featured quite predominantly in 1987.

I vividly remember my Mum, sitting at the kitchen table, her best scissors at the ready, cutting, applying and covering each and every book with military precision. They came out smooth, without air bubbles and professional.

So why does this simple process elude me? Why do they always just end up looking like one of those giant in ground trampolines at the Big 4 holiday parks?

I went looking online for solutions, even asking fellow parents what they do and whether they enjoy the process. The majority grunted at me, still unable to discuss it. Yet some told me that they basically got off on it. That they found it “therapeutic”.

You know what I find therapeutic? Sitting on a deck chair, drinking wine, surrounded by nothing but silence and a beautiful mountain location.

ADVERTISEMENT

The more I investigated the more I found that this is something every parent has an opinion on. One lady going so far as to start up a business offering her book covering services. She’ll cover anything you like for a dollar per book. All you have to do is provide the contact, drop it all off and BAM books covered. She even encourages you to ‘book early’ to avoid the rush. Sadly, she’s 2,000kms away or I’d seriously consider it.

I then thought that, perhaps, I was just missing the fundamentals; that maybe there was one simple step that I didn’t know about.  So I Googled, and I found the following diagram.

If you are anything like me, you’ll take one look at this diagram, head towards the corner of the room and rock back and forth.  All I see are Ikea flat-pack instructions and a tennis court. But it may be useful to someone. Let me know if that person is you.

Mia trying to cover her daughter’s books.

This is an awfully long-winded way of telling you that I gave up.

My husband is one of those naturally gifted bastards people that takes 5 minutes to do something that will ultimately take me 3 hours, and still do a much better job of it. He was watching me across the room, air fighting with the Ben Ten contact and casually called out “Want a hand?” My first instinct was to tell him no. No way. To tell him that I’ve GOT this. But then I looked at the mess that surrounded me, the couple of completed “covered” books that looked like a Toddler had been given a pair of scissors and some Clag and answered, “Yes, yes I would”.

Watching him was like watching a master craftsman at work. He sheered through the contact, applied it expertly leaving no bubbles in his wake and was done within the hour.

No, before you ask, you cannot borrow him. I’m sorry. I still have some Ikea bookcases I need him to assemble first.

How do you tackle contacting school books? What’s your air bubble record? What’s the one back-to-school task you can’t stand?