It was while being hypnotised by the revolving chickens at Sainsbury’s that I realised I was facing my first day off sick. The children were largely sympathetic upon my return. “Just sit down and relax” suggested a kind child in my class. “But there’s 30 of you and only one of me” I groaned. This was not strictly true. There were 29 children; one was off sick today with “slap face”. I had to look this condition up to make sure she wasn’t a victim of bullying.
I heard the news that I will be working along with the woman who only talks to me through the medium of her baby. This is fine; I will introduce her to our class puppet Franklin who will do all the talking for me. Little does she know he has severe Tourette’s syndrome.
The last day with my class brought tears to all of our eyes. I’d promised a girl in my class I would wear a shirt she’d bought me. I’m of a slender build but this was so slim-fit I couldn’t move my arms. Working in a school teaches you things, I learnt I can avoid breathing out for 6 and a half hours.
As I played a farewell slideshow I’d made to the class, their tears fell readily too. More tears of boredom though, because it was 142 slides long. They brightened up during the class party and for the first time I really completely allowed myself to enjoy their company. I’ve lost count of the wobbly teeth I’ve had to feign interest in, the wobbly lips I’ve had to comfort and the wobbly moments I’ve had while teaching but it’s all been ultimately worth it.
We finished the day by tearing the classroom apart. With the asbestos lined walls to be removed it was all the excuse we needed to…then I heard a squawk. I remember thinking “oh god…oh no…for the love of God…not Word Bird!” It was too late. An overzealous child had ripped him from the wall.
Word Bird has been with me from the start. He’s a bird we’ve stuck post-it stickers to of newly learnt vocabulary. He coughed and spluttered in my arms as the children made a reverential circle around me. “I’m feeling ravenous and carcinogenic” Word Bird croaked, spewing a fountain of post-it stickers. “Hang in there Word Bird!” I pleaded, whilst also admiring his extensive vocabulary.
“Deciduous…astute…benevolent” Word Bird by now was raving; I knew the end was in sight. His last words were slightly obscured although I think he finished with ‘xenophobia’ and possibly ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’. We held a minute’s silence. Our first considering we have a child with ADHD.
I’ve reached the end of my first year of teaching. I’ve said goodbye to a class that I spent so much time pretending I didn’t love to bits. I may only be the merest blip on their radar of life but I adored and will never forget them. I’m not entirely sure what to do with my time now, so I’ve set my mind to building ‘Word Bird Mark 2’ or ‘Son of Word Bird’ (whichever sounds catchier).
He’ll be better, stronger and have more post-it stickers.
That goes for me too x
Dedicated to Word Bird 2011-2012