Monthly Archives: December 2013

Work in progress

And it shall come to pass that a baby will be found lying in a manger. It also came to pass that I found a baby lying in the middle of the staff room. On further inspection, it was the baby Jesus having been used and tossed aside post-nativity. I shoved it in a cupboard in the hope that one day a Ofsted inspector may also come to pass.

Nothing sums up Christmas in a Primary School better than the cleaner wearing a flashing ‘Santa’ hat while cleaning up puke. Equally though, it’s the wonderment and excitement that emanates from the children. It just needs a couple of adults to try to fuck it up.

As I pulled on my Father Christmas outfit for the last time this year (stress related weight loss has at least meant the trousers are fashionably ‘low slung’), I was determined to ride out the last day with a smile on my face. There were all smiles from the woman from the local council. She was hearing how well the autistic child in my class was progressing.

“That’s all very positive” she beamed, rubber stamping the idea that he will be at School for the day, increasing his current half day embargo. I’d been forewarned to keep things light, so I sat there trying to mirror her positivity while wondering just how catastrophic the effect a full day of his behaviour will have on the rest of the class.

For the moment, the rest of the class were looking…larger. Teaching Tip #1: Don’t tell your class that if they come in on the last day of term they will receive a present. You will end up with more than 30. It was heart warming to see them open their presents though. Each year I have to write in the card; Dear (Name of Child) I wish you an equal amount of Christmas merriment as your classmates, Your Teacher. This is to avoid calls of favouritism. To avoid any suggestion of favouritism among the nest of vipers that are the adults in my year group, I got them fuck all.

One child had appeared to write the ‘f’ word repeatedly on the envelopes of the cards he was giving out. He pleaded his innocence. He is from a large family of six, so I asked each of them to come in and write the ‘f’ word on my ‘Learning Wall’ in order to find the culprit. Let it never be said I’m not thorough.

The last Assembly was unintentionally entertaining. One child placed his fingers in his ears as the local reverend talked of the real reason behind Christmas. We couldn’t establish if it was a reactionary religious decision on the part of the child, or if that he, like the rest of us, found him unfathomably dull.

Some girls from the local dance club were on hand to liven things up and being dressed as Father Christmas meant I was an obvious target to copy their dance moves. I hadn’t danced sober in public…ever. At least once I’d got my breath back I could tell the School my ‘Father Christmas’ story.

I’ve told this story so many times I’m beginning to believe it myself. I relived a moment 15 years ago, looking out of a window, with my nephew on Christmas Eve. Suddenly there was a flash of light and something shot through the sky. This was all the excuse I needed to say that it was Father Christmas.

Over the years the story became embellished with the sound of bells, the sight of reindeer etc but as I told the story I could see even the more cynical, older children beginning to believe. It was truly a beautiful moment. It was. It was until one of the knitters at the guillotine from my year group, burst out laughing.

The spell was broken. I hurried to the end of the story and took my leave. I knew full well the snake in the grass wasn’t laughing intentionally. She laughed because she couldn’t stand to see me have this moment. Sadly, it’s the culture within my year group that the critical eye never fails to find a flaw.

Revenge was sweet. The autistic child pinched her arm. Her child-like reaction to it, meant I needed to go through the motions reprimanding the child, while secretly hoping he does it again. If there’s any justice it will be a double whammy delivered on the first of the month.

We finished the day sewing glove puppets. The class worked so diligently I felt inspired to open a sweat shop. All joking aside, the New Year may prove to be a time of alternative job hunting. The pupil progress meeting could be summed up by the disappointment of being told my class were not making enough progress, with the suggestion, albeit put nicely, to ‘work harder’.

My last Christmas present, an ‘After birth sensation pelvic floor stimulator’, raised the intended end-of-day smile. To be fair to the confused child, I was still wearing the fat suit.

My back

Not even a pair of thumbs stapled together (I’m not sure how I did it either) or the sight of ‘Twins Club’ (like a nightmare you never wake up from), could take the glow from the last few days before Christmas. Being the sole male member of the school it was inevitable I would be asked to be Father Christmas for the Christmas Fayre. This, I thought, would be the perfect opportunity to gain revenge on the kids that had pissed me off this term.

The reality was very different. As soon as the children entered the grotto, all nervous and wide-eyed, my heart melted. I loved it. In fact I needed to be asked by the Head Teacher to ‘pick it up’ as the queues to visit were so long; the punters weren’t spending money on other stalls.

I made a great Father Christmas. I adopted a voice that at first I couldn’t place, before realising it was Mr Kipling. I guffawed, smiled widely, slapped my knee and generally Christmas camped it up to good effect.

The trick, I found, is to listen and pick up on their cues. I was able to create the illusion to them that I really was this omnipotent, all-seeing magical being. In fact I was so good; I intend to be Father Christmas for two months of the year and a psychic medium for the remaining ten. It’s the same process. “What do you want for Christmas?” “I want Lego” “Lego! I knew that was top of your list!” is not dissimilar to “I’m getting the name…John, is there a John in the audience?” “Now John it’s not been easy has it?”

One visiting mother told me she wanted to “swap her kids”. I was initially stunned. “For what?” I thought. The only things I had to barter with were some hastily wrapped treats from Poojah’s Sweet and Savoury. Eventually I discovered she was saying “swab her kids” for an undisclosed illness. I asked her to leave a couple of mince pies and a carrot and I’d do my best to bring her some antibiotics.

The Xmas Nativity play arrived. As I watched the excluded children pressing their faces against the glass door and watching, I envied them. Only because I happened to be sat in front of the most tone-deaf kid in my class who to her credit, sang with great monotone gusto.

We’d asked the parents to provide white sheets with holes in them. Meaning holes for their arms, not for their eyes. My class were supposed to be angels; instead it resembled a meeting of the Klan.

One child was scolded for gyrating during the Nativity scene. Now, strictly speaking, Section 5.2 of the Behaviour Policy states ‘There IS something wrong with a little Bump n Grind’ but I’ve also sat through enough school plays to know that parents love anything that breaks the monotony of the school play.

This child, to be fair, had not had the best of weeks. He’d grafittied the playground (rookie mistake number 1: don’t write your own name) and then used an ICT lesson to type up some choice words for a previous teacher (rookie mistake number 2: don’t then print it off on my printer and sign your name at the end of it). The fact that this child had raised the blood pressure of a teacher I particularly dislike made it all the more pleasing to give him ‘Star of the Week’.

The same repellent teacher had declared that she ‘loved her job’ which set my teeth on edge. Between witnessing her bullying of children, the general atmosphere in the staff room (or as I’ve renamed it ‘Dragons Den’) plus a paltry seven of us showing up for the Staff Christmas Party, the signs are clear it will soon be time to go. I made my intentions all the more drunkenly obvious by suggesting we toast to “new beginnings”.