It’s odd just how many kids I now bump into from School. I’ve seen one kid in Sainsbury’s (while buying ‘Tooth Whitening Mouth Rinse’ – my secret is out), another on the Northern Line and one who appeared and ran alongside me in the park. I’d forgotten what a thrill it is for kids to see you outside of the School domain. One child treated me with such reverence, outside Snappy Snaps, I half expected her to ask for an autograph.

Along with learning about the law of diminishing returns of anonymity in public places, I’ve learnt about the power of distraction. With Zak it’s getting easier. We start the day in our corner, which doubles as a ‘naughty corner’ the minute he kicks off. This is how distraction works;

Me: Morning Zak

Zak: I hate this school! I hate Roisin! I hate you! I want to be by myself!

Me: (pretending to read article) oh

Zak: (with sudden piqued interest) what?

Me: nothing

Zak: (grabs article) show me

Me: please

Zak: please (looks briefly at article) what is it? read it to me please

Me: according to this a planet is being devoured by a yellow dwarf’s heavenly inferno

Zak: is that good?

Mission accomplished.

With most of the Year 6 children away on an adventure holiday, I thought Zak would miss having kids to fight with. I needn’t have worried. He found someone to fight within minutes of entering the building. Mrs Godsend sat them both down and had them join little fingers for a ‘pinky make up’. It was just about humiliating enough to stem any further bad behaviour.

The afternoon drained away slowly. Zak, once again, corrected me on the pronouncement of his name. This is the third time this has happened. When he began at School, I called him Zak (as in the English name Zack). After a few months he told me his name was in fact pronounced with a guttural noise at the end – the kind that can sometimes bring up unwanted phlegm. I agreed to this, only for him to change it again.

This time he introduced an ‘h’ sound into the middle. Now it sounded like someone was fighting for breath halfway through pronouncement. Thankfully, we’re now back to plain old Zak again. This is what it must be like working with the Artist Formerly Known as Prince.


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