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Clare Johnston.

c.johnston@dailyrecord.co.uk @CLARES_J THE kids may be settled back at school but I'm not.

Each morning, I spend the first 15 minutes of my car journey agonising over what I might have forgotten to pack for them.

I'll be breezing along, chuckling at the radio DJ's by now very familiar jokes, slowing merrily now and then to give way to other drivers, until I'm gripped by a sudden, all-consuming fear.

"I forgot to pack Sam's swimming stuff," I'll tell myself, quickly followed by, "No, maybe I did pack it." Then I retrace in my mind every step leading to the boys leaving the house.

Did I remember seeing the swimming bag when I added Sam's lunchbox to his rucksack? I relax again, visualising the bag in question.

A flurry of nerves rear back up when I ask myself if I remembered to put the goggles in.

But I stifle the thought and try to keep my mind from straying back to the horrors of what may or may not be missing from those two schoolbags that hold such torment if they are an item short.

If I forget to put their water bottles in, I picture the boys parched and gasping for a drink all day. Forget their snack and it's tantamount to neglect. I've failed to feed my child properly.

Worse than forgetting the snack, though, is forgetting the nut ban.

I once sent my oldest boy in with a peanut butter sandwich and got a phonecall from an officious-sounding teaching assistant who advised me that the item had been "removed from your son's snack box and disposed of ". At that point, I visualised men in protective suits and gas masks clutching the sandwich between gloved fingers, marching it to wasteland and dropping it in a vat of acid.

There are so many hazards when it comes to getting kids ready for school - between excursions and charity fancy dress days, that I'm a nervous wreck.

The pressure is ratcheted up another couple of levels because both my boys hate to do the wrong thing or be the odd one out.

They don't want to draw attention to themselves in case they're picked on.

Reading Victoria Beckham's note to her younger self, in which she talks about not fitting in, was a reminder about the discomfort of youth.

My oldest hates the mole on his face - a mole that looks more like a beauty mark to me. He sees only something that makes him different and so must be ugly.

I want to raise kids who aren't afraid to stand out from the crowd but, sadly, most spend their teens feeling uncomfortable in their own skin - and there's rarely a shortcut to confidence.

There are so many hazards getting kids ready that I'm a nervous wreck

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 5, 2016
Words:470
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