“It’s all right to listen, Miss Sugarsprinkles. It’s not at all rude.”
“Are you sure, Mrs Jellywoman?”
“Quite sure, Miss Sugarsprinkles. Please don’t worry.”
“I’ll just wash up the paint-pots, then.”
“Please do.” Continue reading →
“We were just wondering if you knew who’d got the job,” I asked Mr Oak, our retiring Headteacher.
The white smoke was billowing from the room above. We were all keen to know who our next boss would be: a Head makes or breaks a school and the staff with it. Were we going to be maked or breaked?
Mr Oak shook his head. “I don’t know. They’ve not asked me for any help at all with the appointment. Not with the job description or the showing round or the interview. I’ve no idea who they’ve appointed. Sorry.” He lowered his head and I crawled out of the office, conscious that my Headteacher was deeply upset, and that I’d just made things worse for him.
“Libby, did you want to share your news?” Libby puts down her hand, wades to the front of the carpet and faces her audience.
“I’ve got news about my mum and dad,” she announces.
“Is it happy news?” I ask. Some things are probably not best shared in show-and-tell.
“Yes it is. Sometimes, my mum takes all my dad’s clothes off and then she laughs. Any questions?”
You might have come across the ‘boiling frog’ model of how people cope with change.
The idea is that if you put a frog in a deep pan of water, it sits around doing happy frog stuff and saying ‘it’s not so bad once you’re in’. Then the pan is put on to heat. The frog adjusts to the gradual rise in temperature – sending out for the odd Ben and Jerry’s perhaps, but basically staying put. It adjusts and adjusts. Then it can adjust no more but, by then, it is no longer physically able to jump out of the pan. And so it goes to the great lily pad in the sky.
No frogs were actually harmed in the making of this metaphor. Hold that thought.
Even at four, Terry is built like a Great Dane who works out. So when, on his first day at school, he barges into wee Jack, there’s no question of who will be sent flying. Terry stands in front of me, sheepishly.
“Terry,” I say, gravely. “You knocked over Jack and he’s hurt.” Jack howls to underline the point.
“I didn’t mean to.”
“I’m sure you didn’t. You know that it is wrong to hurt people on purpose, don’t you?”
Terry nods. “It was an accident,” comes the gruff reply.
“Well, even if you didn’t mean to, Jack is still hurt. See how upset he is.” Jack is currently working towards a nomination for Best Actor in a Playground Incident. Terry himself now looks on the point of tears; the classic gentle giant. “Now, what do you think would make him feel better?” I ask.
Terry’s face brightens. “Flowers?” he suggests.
I thought that she was in the outdoor area working with Miss Sugarsprinkles. Miss Sugarsprinkles thought she was in the classroom, working with me. So, we instituted a search. Not in the toilets. Not in the Welfare Room. Not in the Office.
At last I found her; huddled in the corner of the small resources room: headphones in ears, gum in mouth, mobile in hand.
She shrugged. “Those f*cking kids are doing me ‘ead in.”
“Then perhaps,” I suggested, “a career in education is not for you. I’ll ring your tutor.”