Kids carrying chaos
Why is it that kids can’t move anywhere without a million bits of baggage, asks Karin Schimke.
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The children have a busy weekend, most of it away from home, which necessitates a great haulage of stuff to school on Friday. Their personality differences are nowhere more evident than in how they manage all this stuff.

My daughter has her guitar, her school bag, an extra backpack with a sleeping bag tied to it, and her lunch bag, the lunch bag her friend left here yesterday, and an empty fabric softener bottle for art. Six items.

Before she gets in the car, she surveys the luggage and proceeds to figure out how to carry everything alone on her small frame. When she is satisfied that she can manage, she packs it all neatly on to the back seat in the order she needs to attach them to her body when she gets out at school.

She is calm and in control, without being freakish.

The children have a busy weekend, most of it away from home, which necessitates a great haulage of stuff to school on Friday. Their personality differences are nowhere more evident than in how they manage all this stuff.

My daughter has her guitar, her school bag, an extra backpack with a sleeping bag tied to it, and her lunch bag, the lunch bag her friend left here yesterday, and an empty fabric softener bottle for art. Six items.

Before she gets in the car, she surveys the luggage and proceeds to figure out how to carry everything alone on her small frame. When she is satisfied that she can manage, she packs it all neatly on to the backseat in the order she needs to attach them to her body when she gets out at school.

She is calm and in control, without being freakish.

The chaos carrier


My son has a bag with clothes for the weekend, and clothes for rugby trials, his rugby ball, his cricket bag (which is slightly taller than his sister), his lunch bag, his school bag, two pairs of takkies, his novel (open on the page where he stopped reading), his cap, his iPod and his cellphone.

The latter two will have to be hidden in his clothes bag (which contains no fewer than seven T-shirts for the weekend) when we get to school, but meantime he feels he needs them in his hands in the car. He is also carrying his geography file tucked under his arm because he’d like to revise on the way to school.

Just before he walks out the door, I suggest he put the takkies into a bag. ‘They won’t fit.’ I get a bigger bag and repack everything, while he ties his laces and tie. When he looks up I have diminished the load somewhat by jettisoning the small bag for a bigger one. He is stunned. ‘Wow! That’s so clever.’ Duh.

He wrestles everything down the stairs, opens the boot and piles it in all higgledy-piggledy, tangling earphone wires with bag handles, twisting a thumb backwards and knocking the cap off his head. He drops the file and papers tear out. He tucks them back in, chucks it on the pile, closes the boot, and searches for a new song on the iPod. Apparently, he’s forgotten he wanted to use that file in the car.

One of his pockets is hanging out. His tie is pulled to one side by the luggage, his shirt is rumpled and his laces have already come undone.

As I start the car he says: ‘Oh no! Where’s my lunch bag? I think I left it at the door.’

Gggrrr.

I despair that he will ever have all his bits together. The chaos in his head is everywhere evident in his life. Perhaps he will one day be the mathematician trying to solve the modern equivalent of Fermat’s Last Theorem. In the meantime, the simple solutions to carrying things do not clearly present themselves to him.

How much stuff do your children carry around with them?


Read more by Karin Schimke

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