Monthly Archives: December 2011

So this is Christmas

As one teacher kicked me up the arse so another landed a custard pie in my face. Normally I’d have grounds for harassment but this was Pantomime where anything goes. I played my ‘Felf’ character to perfection, although there was nearly a last-minute change of character. As I helped the ‘Prince’ put the backdrop up, I stepped off the bench we were both standing on. As it tipped up he took the theatrical idiom ‘break a leg’ literally and nearly fell of the stage.

The slapstick continued even after the performance. I didn’t see the run up although I felt the moment when shoe met groin. Just as red rag is to a bull so my red felf trousers must have appeared to this particular child. Why he felt the need to kick me square in the nuts when I was clearly one of the Pantomime ‘good guys’ is anyones guess. It made my eyes water and my bell tinkle.

The last day of term was proving to be a testing day. I’d run into a dog on the way to the tube station and I had to change into my felf outfit in a small cramped toilet cubicle. I was within earshot of passing kids and every slight movement set off a sound effect from my ‘Sparkle and Glitter’ wand. I prayed it would go unnoticed.

The children responded with much enthusiasm to my turn. It was nice that so many of them spontaneously hugged me just as the Head Teacher arrived. One child did unfortunately produce a torrent of vomit but I like to think that was more of a reflection on the amount of party food he’d consumed.

Of course I had to play teacher too. I reprimanded some children who had crossed out the names out of children in their Christmas cards and replaced them with mine. I also had to tell them not to ask one of our teachers anymore when her baby was due. As I said, it was a difficult day.

The afternoon was a heady mix of cake, non-fizzy drinks and party games. To double our delight a consignment of whiteboard pens arrived. It was like the last days of Rome, primary-school style.

And suddenly there was none. As the last child trailed off with their parent I was left alone to contemplate the end of my first teaching term. My head swam, my nerves were shattered and my balls ached. Then a wonderful thing happened…it started to snow. Merry Christmas!

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The Pantomime continues apace, although my role is ever-changing. I was originally the narrator, then ‘fairy number 3’ and now in my latest incarnation I will be an elf with fairy wings. Or an elf that’s in touch with his feminine side, a cross between a fairy and an elf. A ‘felf’ if you will.

I just need to organise an outfit, although the children kindly offered to make me one. This was a sweet and good-natured suggestion but should the paper effort fall apart live on stage I could be arrested.

I am approaching the end of my first term and can feel my stamina wilting. I am getting the kids names wrong and confusing lunch and playtime. I would be less aware of this if the children did not go nuts for every slip up I make. It magnifies the slightest of mistakes, including my accidental pasting of work into one child’s book, so it appeared she had gone from knowing little English to confidently using alliteration, metaphor and similes in the course of a week.

The class and I have an understanding though, which has only come about through my doing everything possible to keep up the previous class teacher’s standards. I have created a Gestapo-like set of informants whose job it is to be ‘my ears’ and listen out for whispering in the corridors. Some take it more seriously than other. I even have one child whose purpose it is to trail the three most unreliable children and be the ‘ears for the Three Musketeers’.

I’m sure the Three Musketeers must have some shared laughs at my attempt to lead them through the playground. I raise the register aloft to let children in other year groups know we are passing through. This has made me target practice for every ball they can hurriedly lay their hands on. It’s tightened up my reflexes though.

We’ve been bonded as a class through ‘the Great Whiteboard pen shortage’ of 2011. A long wait for whiteboard pens has meant my children have gone from one each, to now one between four. Just as our collective spirit has risen so have the number of oddities I hear. One child revealed “my father tells me never to drink the anti-venom in the house!” (we live in North London). Looking for ideas for a class prayer, two girls suggested a song about being “small town girls waiting for a boy on the midnight train”. What are they teaching them in Church these days?

I set homework this week for the class to practice spinning clockwise and anti-clockwise. This, and the song, could be all the evidence those girl’s parents need to send them for a joint exorcism.

Just as you should never go food shopping when you’re hungry, you shouldn’t read your classes letters to Santa when you’re feeling tired and emotional.  The letters ranged from the unusual (asking for Ouija boards, goats), the less than charitable (one girl asked  for her brother to confuse opening the window, with the door, of a moving car) and the downright heartbreaking, children asking for a home, to stop being bullied or a hot water bottle to keep warm.

One girl asked for a toy, any toy and for her dad to get a job. She left a tick box at the end asking Father Christmas if he liked her. Father Christmas, of course, ticked it ‘yes’.