To give you a list, it seems:
- I failed to explain how normal life in this neck of the woods means you have one of everything; one pair good shoes, one pair trainers, one set school uniform, one winter coat, the list goes on. Believe it or not we are NORMAL and we pull our sense of pride from the fact that our kid's 'one' of X,Y or Z looks clean and well kept and still fits, that our children are not like poor Johnny up the street whose school trousers flap about his ankles like Norman Wisdom.
- I didn't explain that we have no qualms about hand-me-downs and purchases from bargain bins or second hand shops, but that good footwear is if utmost importance. Growing up tatty is fine, and probably more fun, but not if it gives you bad feet for the rest of your life. I thought most normal people lived like that.
- I never explained that around here, at least, school uniform is the one set of kit that is sacrosanct and smart and spotless 'or else', everything else is easy come easy go. Really, now I think about it, it's the new Sunday Best. Its untouchable. Every woman, even the one I was talking about, gets her kids straight out of uniform if they are going anywhere but school or home. I trusted my kids to be IN her home, because that was the deal. If you have more, if a pair of shoes are not the most expensive thing in a wardrobe for you, if your kids have two or three of everything so that loss of one is no big deal, then just go away and count yourself lucky, to spoiled, OK? You are blessed and not normal. I don't need you telling me how it doesn't matter when they are financially irreplaceable at this time of year and it does matter, a lot.
- I failed to explain that I am not one of those completely anal, 'spotless house, spotless and bored children' types and that we actually have some fun - it just has to be coordinated.
- I never, obviously, made it quite clear enough for one person that I do know how to deal with my own children and wasn't asking for any advice at all on whether to lecture my child about her part in this, that I am neither stupid not one of those dreadful mothers who thinks the sun shines out of her kid's bumholes.
- Finally, I very very clearly failed to point out that asking for advice on salty leather shoes (which I have never encountered as a parent, never had to deal with, never been stupid enough to land up with; that my daughter who stood there while I was told she had stepped in a puddle never had ANY IDEA might cause problems like that because she's not old enough to go out on her own and so hasn't been told these little things and hasn't had a mother stupid enough to ruin her leather shoes before - get the point?) and asking advice for how to deal with a very annoying trait in an otherwise good friend without losing the acquaintance, IN ANY WAY meant 'please criticise me, my attitudes and my children, and do go ahead and assume that if I haven't laid everything out for you then I am obviously stupid and precious and need to think again'. So sorry I missed that implication.
Please accept my apologies, I never realised for a moment that, in order to ask two straight questions, I was supposed to open up every last private detail of my life and finances and personal dealings with my children for public audit and humiliation.
I wanted to tell 'anonymous' that I forgive him/her/you - you obviously don't know me and can't be blamed for coming across this blog for the first time and thinking it is run by some clueless twat, but you might want to resist the urge to publicise that thought in print until you have checked your facts.
I think I will keep requests for advice to email, in future, but thank you so much anyway.