I’ve been charged with the task of helping Dalian calm down. Our design technology project has proved too much for him. Too many people in too small a space was always going to make cutting, painting and sticking difficult, especially for children like Dalian. I tell him that I also get cross when struggling with practical tasks, but he’s unimpressed until I recount my battle with Henry.
The little chap had been behaving very badly one day. He kept refusing to follow my instructions and insisted on hiding behind corners and doors just to be annoying. When he nearly choked himself by deliberately swallowing a Homer Simpson sock, it was the last straw. I got very angry and did something bad. I swore at him and kicked him up the backside.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve lost my temper with a vacuum cleaner, and as usual it didn’t make hoovering any easier. Mrs Eddison pointed out that it wasn’t Henry’s fault my sock got stuck up his flexible hose, and that in the future I should make more of an effort to put my dirty clothes in the laundry basket and not on the floor. She also advised me to look under the bed before poking my attachment there.
Dalian and I have a lot in common. We both take our frustrations out on the things that are frustrating us, which in turn has an increasingly negative effect on them. His Roman Shield (made using cardboard, paint, silver foil and a yogurt pot) might not have resembled the one his teacher made earlier, but shouting at it, throwing it to the floor and repeatedly stamping on it did nothing to improve its final appearance.
While getting cross with inanimate objects is not good, taking your anger out on other people is even worse. Last week, Dalian accidentally cut off the tabs needed to make his 3D cuboid stick together. This time it wasn’t just the stupid scissors that were to blame, or even the stupid template; it was stupid Luke.
Luke had the best scissors. Luke kept getting in his way. Luke nudged his arm deliberately. Luke kept telling him what to do. Luke called him an idiot. And worst of all, Luke kept looking at him. Even when Luke kindly gave Dalian his own cuboid (because he could easily make another one) Dalian’s thank you was at best grudging.
On the corridor I tell Dalian all about my own long list of practical failures. These include several doomed DIY projects and a number of tortuous self-assembly furniture attempts. I admit that I too have blamed things for my failures, including uncooperative screwdrivers, stubborn drills, indecipherable instructions and Sweden. But unless I count God as a person, I have always tried not to blame other people.
Dalian remains unimpressed. It’s only when I tell him about Henry almost choking to death on my Homer Simpson sock that he manages to see the funny side. "But at least he survived to vac another day," I tell him. "Things could have been much worse. Did I ever tell you about my battle with Dyson?"
Steve Eddison is a teacher at Arbourthorne Community Primary School in Sheffield