Working with kids turns your insides to mush. I mean that in a good way. For example, the recent earthquake in Haiti seems to have had a stronger emotional resonance for me. My lip even started quivering yesterday, when a couple of hundred Hells Angels rode past my window, following their friends’ funeral hearse.
I’m also inevitably aware that working with kids requires extra vigilance. We lived in hysterical times not so long ago, when the media convinced us there was a paedophile on every street corner and that the old man who sits in the park, you know the one with glasses, who looks a bit weird, with the possible false arm, should be castrated. It was grossly manipulative and shameful journalism.
Last friday, the Headteacher announced that any children who were not walking with parents, should be escorted to the school gates by a teacher or teaching assistant. I did my bit, walking Evie to the gates before heading home. Evie asked which way I headed and as this was her route too, could I watch her throw snowballs at signs. So we walked on and within a few hundred yards reached the bridge, where our respective paths diverged.
I thought nothing more of it till this week, when she started to walk with me almost every day. The issue being, that with each passing day, more and more of her family were trailing along behind me. I’ve been introduced to cousins, second cousins, friends and friends of friends. It’s only a short distance, but I’m now resembling the frigging Pied Piper of North London. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but history has taken a pretty dim view of him.
There is a serious point to this, have I inadvertently put myself in a position which could be misinterpreted? or am I being alarmist even just thinking this?. I now find myself striding quite purposefully ahead of them, as they buzz around behind me.