Sweating like Tony Blair under scrutiny over weapons of mass destruction, I headed to the school’s Diamond Jubilee party. One of my class bounded over to me like a puppy that hadn’t seen its owner in weeks. “Guess who my favourite teacher is?” he said, beaming from ear to ear. “Well” I suggested immodestly “is it me?” “No! it’s Miss Francesca!” he said emphatically, almost hurt by the suggestion. As an afterthought he added “you’re second”.
Grateful to have been in the top two, we forged on to the sunny playground to see off a week that had overstayed its welcome. A shadow was soon to be cast over it though. One child had spent the previous few days accidentally throwing other children’s balls over neighbouring fences. Health concerns were raised; here was a sporty child who now seemed incapable of throwing a ball properly.
“I’m moving to a new house” he told me matter-of-factly as we entered the playground. “Oh really?” I responded, “Yeah, over there” he said and pointed. We both stopped in our tracks. “When you move into your nice new home you’re going to throw back every ball that’s in your garden” I said through gritted teeth. Let’s see how much this improves his aim.
It’s surprising how children, so young, can be so devious. I use personalised “lolly sticks of fate” to decide which children should answer questions during some of my more interminable lessons. I caught one child about to remove the lolly stick with his name on it. This is the same child I’ve been advised to “catch doing the right thing”. I have tried and now resort to lying to compliment his behaviour.
While the teachers of older children could rightfully kick back and let their class wander around the party, I was desperately trying to be vigilant for thirty kids who were rightfully going nuts. Suddenly I felt like the victim of every tabloid hack who tries to convince you there’s a paedophile on every street corner.
There could be only one result. I shouted and hollered to the point where my voice said “screw (cough) this” and deserted me. Half term has arrived and after a few days of recuperation and with renewed vigour I will spend it writing reports for the little wonders in my class who have entertained, invigorated, surprised, educated and humoured me.