MAN’S WORLD: Counting the cost...

Here I am in a well-known supermarket. Alright, the mini version thereof.

My day to collect Ben from school.

And as every parent of a school age boy knows, it’s a medically proven fact that if you collect your son from school without immediately offering him food he’s unlikely to survive the journey home.

Oh, and a drink. Ben is so desperate for a drink I can only assume school hasn’t paid any water rates since the last century.

So a snack. I’ve long ago forsaken chocolate: if the fruit in the supermarket looks like it hasn’t spent more than two years being artificially ripened in a warehouse that’s good enough for me. And look, grapes are on two for three quid. He’ll absolutely demolish one on the way home and the second won’t survive the evening. Now water: how much are those big bottles of water? 52p this week.

As I walk back to the car I idly do some mental arithmetic.

And then I stop. Because I realise the answer will be terrifying. Utterly and completely terrifying.

But the question has been nagging away at me all week. I have to know the answer.

Even though I may shortly be on the floor. Weeping. Rocking gently to and fro in the foetal position…

The question is simple. How much money have I spent on snacks and drinks collecting my children from school?

I swear I don’t know. I’m going to work it out now. In real time. You’ll see the horror story unfolding in front of you.

Tom and Jessica. Ages five to 18. Thirteen years at school. Knock a year off for each as I’m sure they didn’t get anything when they were only five. So that’s two lots of twelve years: 24 years.

Ben. Currently 15. Let’s say he started at age six as well (although I’m sure my wife would tell me otherwise). Add nine years. So that’s a grand total of 33 years.

How many weeks in a school year? I’m trying to do this in my head – so no Google.

Let’s say, 36. Therefore my children have been at school for a total of 1,188 weeks.

(Yes, of course I used a calculator. Forget that bit about doing it in my head.)

Maybe I collect them two days a week. Is that fair?

Hmmm… Sometimes I went late and collected one of them – almost always Jessica – after whatever sport she was playing. Average two children for two days a week. Times 1,188. This is starting to look bad isn’t it?

The answer is going to be the price of a small family car. Or a very substantial holiday. Double glazing a few bedrooms. But I’m committed…

Four child-days times 1,188 is £4,752. No, it’s not £4,752; it’s just 4,752 child-days through all the years my children have been at school. Putting the pound sign there was wishful thinking.

How much per child per day? Grapes and water mean I’ve just spent two quid on Ben. But there’s been inflation (not much, sadly). And did they always get a drink?

Let’s say £1.20 per day per child. Multiplied by the big number in the previous paragraph. Oh goodness. £5,702.40 – on chocolate, grapes, crisps and Coke.


You might like to read this again if you’re newly and blissfully pregnant. Or if your little angel is currently waving from the cot.

A word of advice. Allotment.

And I know what you’re thinking. Ha ha ha. You wrote this on April Fool’s Day.

Good one – you had me going for a minute. I almost believed you. Thank goodness it’s all lies.

If only it were…