A marriage made in the classroom

12th January 2001 at 00:00
Being wed to a teacher is a bond with a bottle collector, says Wendy Hodges.

Don't throw that away - it'll make a fantastic science resource." I stare blankly at the empty plastic bottle which I'd been about to consign to the kitchen bin.

It looks just like a plastic bottle to me, and a pretty cheap and nasty one at that. But my husband leaps across the room and wrests it from my astounded grasp - and then proceeds to contemplate it like manna from heaven.

"I've been looking for a long clear plastic tube for ages," he says, his face wreathed in smiles as he carries off his precious trophy. "Now I just need a couple more to join on and make it longer. Can you get the kids to drink up the lemonade as well?" I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Since his enthusiastic plunge into teaching, at the advanced age of 36, David's ingenuity has known no bounds.

Cardboard boxes have been pressed into service as Roman forts, jam-jars reincarnated as paint water containers or lamp-holders, and magazines snatched from the jaws of the paper bank and cut up for artwork.

Our binmen have certainly noticed the difference. When David was a surveyor we sometimes peaked at four bags a week. Now we're lucky to scrape together enough rubbish for two.

Being married to a primary teacher has transformed our lifestyle - and I don't just mean the hefty cut in salary.

My shopping lists are augmented with unusual items. "Can you get me four heads of celery, some green food colouring and three tins of syrup." It must be science again.

And if we should stray to a local place of interest with our children I am soon laden with literature, posters and leaflets, while David subjects the quivering attendants to probing questions about a possible school visit for 50 nine-year-olds.

Our long-suffering postman staggers to the door, weighed down with bulky packages containing yet more "resources" for anything from music to mathematics. He must think we have a birthday every week.

There's a new dimension to our social life too. No longer do we enjoy a night out at a local restaurant or theatre - for one thing, we can't afford it any more - but we never miss the chilly delights of the school's outdoor fish supper in mid-Novemer. And we applaud enthusiastically at the latest production on the junior school stage. Year 4 is positively bursting with talent this year.

At least they've stopped asking me to do the costumes. I only did it once. Apparently the infant Nativity scene descended into tearful chaos when the angels' dresses spontaneously unravelled on stage.

Unfortunately my laundering skills are still considered adequate to deal with the mud-encrusted school soccer kit. So far it remains the same lurid green colour although it does seem a little smaller. Year 6 must be having a growth spurt.

But there are advantages to being married to a primary school teacher.

Expenditure on clothing is minimal, since David's well-worn jackets and trousers are ideal for a struggling schoolmaster. But we were a little taken aback when one child gave him a Marks amp; Spencer's voucher at the end of term. Perhaps we've patched those elbows just once too often.

He spends most of his time in sports kit anyway, having taken over most of the school PE lessons, to the unconcealed jubilation of his middle-aged female colleagues.

I certainly don't need to buy any chocolates at Christmas anymore - parents are so generous with their Yuletide gifts, although some clearly struggle when selecting something suitable for a male teacher. We've got a lovely collection of football mugs, novelty socks and letter-openers which will be handy for next year's tombola.

The trick is to mention your wine preferences frequently during early December. The children then gleefully inform their parents that their teacher is an alcoholic - resulting in several very acceptable bottles in lieu of the socks.

Life has certainly changed, but at least I now have a husband who gets home in time for tea with the children and actually sees them during the school holidays. Even if he does spend most evenings closeted with Year 4's dubious efforts at poetry.

I suppose a few bizarre items on my shopping list and a bag of "useful resources" in the spare room is a small price to pay. Even the salary is gradually creeping up.

Well, I'm off on a mission again. Does anyone know where you can get pink glittery string? I'm sure I've seen some somewhere.

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